The Essential Elements of Christian

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”—Matt, v. 6 (Bible Study Tools)

INHERE are a great many things in the experience of Christians, which, traced out in their natural history, are exceedingly interesting. I have been struck to notice how very commonly what is peculiar to Christian experience drops out of the mind; while that which is merely incidental remains, and constitutes the mind’s entire conception of what religion is. Their way of talking of their experience leaves you quite in the dark as to its genuineness, even when they propose to give you especially the reasons of their hope.

My design is first to state some of the facts which belong to the life of God in the soul.

i. Hunger and thirst are states of mind, and do not belong to the body. They are of two kinds, natural and spiritual. The objects on which the natural terminates are food and drink. By our very constitution these are necessary to our well-being in the present world. These appetites are natural and terminate on their appropriate objects.

There are also spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst, which are as truly natural as the former. It is no more a figure of speech to use these terms in this case than in the other.

The appetites that demand food and drink are facts and experiences. Everybody knows what it is to have them, and everybody knows in general what those things are which are so related to the human constitution as to meet those demands.

So also the spiritual appetites are not. less things of fact and experience, and stand in like manner related to the objects which are adapted to the demand.

2. Sin is a fact in the natural history of our race. That it is so, must be attributed to the fall of our first parents. Yet whatever explanation be given of the introduction of sin into the human family, it now exists as an undeniable fact.

Some attention to the manner in which sin is first developed, may serve to show its relations to what I have called the natural history of the race.

We all know it to be a fact that the natural appetites commence their development immediately after the natural birth. The first awakening to a conscious existence in this world seems to be, if not Occasioned by, yet closely connected with, a constitutional demand for food. The alternations of’ demand and supply commence and go on while health continues—all the time developing the strength of this class of appetites. Commonly the natural make their development far in advance of the spiritual.

Not much is said in the Bible as to the mode in which sin entered our world and acquired such relations to the human soul, but it is distinctly referred to Adam’s first sin, and is asserted to be in some way connected with that event. Facts show that sin has become in a most significant sense natural to the race, so that they all spontaneously, not of necessity, yet spontaneously, if no special grace interpose, begin to sin as soon as they begin to act morally, or in other words, as soon as they become capable of moral action. Not that men are born sinners, not that they sin before they are born, not that sin is born in them, nor that they are be* yond their control born into sin; but yet the constitution of the man—body and mind—is such, and the law of development is such, that men sin naturally (none the less voluntarily, responsibly, and guiltily), but they all sin of free choice; the temptations to sin being developed in advance of those intellectual and moral powers which should counteract the excessive demands of the sensibility. Mark the developments of the new-born child. Some pain or some appetite awakens its consciousness of existence, and thus is created a demand for the things it •perceives itself to need. Then the little infant begins to struggle for good—for that particular good which its new-developed sensibility demands. Want, the struggling demand for supply, and the gratification, form a process of development which gives such power to the sensibility as generates ere long an intense selfishness; and before the conscience and the reason are perceptibly developed, have laid the foundation for spiritual death. If the Spirit of God does not excite spiritual wants and arouse the mind to efforts in obtaining them, the mind becomes so engrossed and its sensibilities acquire such habits of control over the will, that when the idea of right and wrong is first developed the mind remains dead to its demands. The appetites have already secured the ascendancy. The mind seems to act as if scarcely aware that it has a soul or any spiritual wants. The spiritual consciousness is at first not developed at all. The mind seems not to know its spiritual relations. When this knowledge first forces itself upon the mind, it finds the ground pre-occupied, the habits fixed, the soul too much engaged for earthly good to be called off. The tendency of this law of development is altogether downward; the appetites become more and more despotic and imperious; the mind has less and less regard for God. The mind comes into a state in which spiritual truth frets and chafes it, and of course it thoroughly inclines to spiritual apathy—choosing apathy, though not unaware of its danger

before the perpetual annoyance of unwelcome truths. This tends toward a state of dead insensibility to spiritual want.

The first symptom of change is the soul’s awaking to spiritual consciousness. Sometimes this is feeble at first, or sometimes it may be more strongly aroused to its spiritual relations, position, and wants. This brings on anxiety, desire, a deep sense of what the soul truly needs. From this arises an influence which begins to counteract the power of appetite. It begins to operate as a balance and check to those long unrestrained demands.

Here you may notice that just in proportion as the spiritual consciousness is developed, the mind becomes wretched, for in this proportion the struggle becomes intense and violent. Before, the man was dead. He was like an animal as to the unchecked indulgence of appetite—above the mere animal in some things, but below in others. He goes on without that counteracting influence which arises from the spiritual consciousness. You see some who live a giddy, aimless life. They seem not at all aware that they have a spiritual nature or any spiritual wants. When they awake to spiritual consciousness and reflection, conviction produces remorse and agony. This spiritual struggle, at whatever age it may occur, is in its general character the same as occurs in the infant when its spiritual consciousness is first awakened.

It is but natural that when the spiritual faculties are aroused, men will begin to pray and struggle under a deep sense of being wrong and guilty. At first this may be entirely selfish. But before conversion takes place, there will be a point in which the counter influences of the selfish against the spiritual will balance each other, and then the spiritual will gain the ascendancy. The animal and the selfish must relatively decline and the spiritual gain strength, till victory turns on the side of the spiritual powers. How commonly do you observe that when the mind becomes convicted of sin, the attractions of the world fade away; all it can give looks small; sinners can no longer take the pleasure in worldly things they once had. Indeed, this is a most curious and singular struggle. How rapid and great are the changes through which the sinner passes! To-day, he quenches the light of God in his soul, and gropes on in darkness; to-morrow the light may return and reveal yet greater sin; one day he relapses back to worldliness, and gives up his soul to his own thoughts and pleasures; but ere another has passed, there is bitterness in this cup and he loathes it, and from his soul cries out: This can never satisfy an immortal mind! Now he begins to practice upon external reformation; but anon he finds that this utterly fails to bring peace to his soul. He is full of trouble and anxiety for salvation, yet all his struggles thus far have been entirely selfish, and ere he is converted he must see this to be the case. He is in a horrible pit of miry clay. The more he struggles the deeper he sinks and the more desperate his case becomes. Selfish efforts for spiritual relief are just like a quagmire of thick clay. Each struggle plunges the sinking man the deeper in the pit. The convicted man is ready to put himself to hard labor and mighty effort. At first he works with great hope of success, for he does not readily understand why selfish efforts will not be successful. He prays, but all in a selfish spirit. By this I mean that he thinks only of himself. He has no thought of honoring or pleasing God—no thought of any benefit to his fellow-beings. He does not inquire whether his course of life and state of heart are such that God can bless him without detriment to the rest of His great family. In fact, he does not think of caring for the rest ot that family nor for the honor of its great Father. Of course, such selfish praying brings no answer; and when he finds this to be the case, he frets and struggles rnore than ever. Now he goes on to add to his works and efforts. He attends more meetings, and reads his Bible more, and tries new forms of prayer. All is in vain. His heart is selfish still. What can I do? he cries out in agony; if I pray I am selfish, and if I desist from prayer, this too is selfish; if I read my Bible or neglect to read it, each alike is selfish, and what can I do? How can I help being selfish?

Alas, he has no idea of acting from any other or higher motive than his own interests. It is his darkness on this very point that makes the sinner’s struggle so long and so unprofitable. This is the reason why he can not be converted at once, and why he must needs sink and flounder so much longer in the quagmire of unavailing and despairing works. It is only when he comes at last to see that all this avails nothing, that he begins to take some right views of his case and of his relations. When he learns that indeed he can not work out his own salvation by working at it on this wise he bethinks himself to inquire whether he be not all wrong at bottom—whether his motives of heart are not radically corrupt. Looking round and abroad, he begins to ask whether God may not have some interests and some rights as well as himself. Who is God and where is He? Who is Jesus Christ and what has He done? What did He die for? Is God a great King over all the earth, and should He not have due honor and homage? Was it this great God who so loved the world as to give His Son to die for it? O, I see I have quite neglected to think of God’s interests and honor! Now I see how infinitely mean and wicked*I have been! Plainly enough, I can not live so. No wonder God did not hear my selfish prayers. There was no hope in that sort of effort, for I had, as I plainly see, no regard to God in anything I was doing then. How reasonable it is that God should ask me to desist from all my selfish endeavors and to put away this selfishness itself, and yield myself entirely and forever to do or suffer all His blessed will!

// is done; and now this long-troubled soul sinks into deep repose. It settles itself down at Jesus’ feet, content if only Christ be honored and God’s throne made glorious. The final result—whether saved or lost—seems to give him no longer that agonizing solicitude; the case is submitted to the Great Disposer in trustful humility. God will do all things well. If He takes due care of His own interests and glory, there will be no complaining—nothing but deep and peaceful satisfaction.

In the case of most young converts, this state of peaceful trust in God is subject to interruptions. The natural appetites have been denied—their dominion over the will disowned; but they are not dead. By and by they rise to assert their sway. They clamor for indulgence, and sometimes they get it. Alas, the young convert has fallen into sin! His soul is again in bondage and sorrow. O, how deeply is he mortified to think that he has again given away to temptation, and pierced the bosom on which he loved to recline! He had promised himself he should never sin, but he has sinned, and well for him if he finds no heart to evade or deny the fact. Better admit it all, and most freely, although it wounds his heart more than all his former sins. Mark his agony of spirit! His tears of repentance were never before so bitter! He feels disappointed, and it almost seems to him that this failure must blast all his plans and hopes of leading a Christian life. It does not work as he thought it would. He feels shy of God; for he says, How can God ever trust me again after such developments of unfaithfulness. He can hardly get himself to say a word to God or to Christ. He is almost sure that he has been deceived. But finally he bethinks himself of the Cross of Calvary, and catches a faint ray of light—a beam of the light of love. He says, There may be mercy for me yet! I will at least go to Jesus and see. Again he goes, and again he falls into those arms of love and is made consciously welcome. The light of God shines on his soul again, and he find himself once more an accepted son in his. Father’s presence.

But here a new form of desire is awakened. He has learned something of his own weakness and has tasted the bitterness of sin. With an agony of interest never known before, he asks, Can I ever become established in holiness? Can I have righteousness enough to make me stand in the evil day? This is a new form of spiritual desire, such as our text expresses in the words “hunger and thirst after righteousness/’

These extended remarks are only an introduction to my general subject, designed to get before your mind the true idea of hungering and thirsting after righteousness. This state of mind is not merely conviction; it is not remorse, nor sorrow, nor a struggle to obtain a hope or to get out of danger. All these feelings may have preceded, but the hungering after righteousness is none of these. It is a longing desire to realize the idea of spiritual and moral purity. He has in some measure appreciated the purity of heaven, and the necessity of being himself as pure as the holy there, in order to enjoy their bliss and breathe freely in their atmosphere.

This state of mind is not often developed by writers, and it seems rarely to have engaged the attention of the Church as its importance demands.

When the mind gets a right view of the atmosphere of. heaven, it sees plainly it can not breathe there, but must be suffocated, unless its own spirit is congenial to the purity of that world. I remember the case of a man who, after living a Christian life for a season, relapsed into sin. At length God reclaimed His wandering child. When I next saw him, and heard him speak of his state of relapse, he turned suddenly away and burst into tears, saying, ” I have been living in sin, almost choked to death in its atmosphere; it seemed as if I could not breathe in it. It almost choked the breath of spiritual life from my system.”

Have not some of you known what this means? You could not bear the infernal atmosphere of sin—so like the very smoke of the pit! After you get out of it, you say, Let me never be there again! Your soul agonizes and struggles to find some refuge against this awful relapsing into sin. O, you long for a pure atmosphere and a pure heart, that will never hold fellowship with darkness or its works again.

The young convert, like the infant child, may not at first distinctly apprehend its own condition and wants; but such experience as I have been detailing develops the idea of perfect purity, and then the soul longs for it with longings irrepressible. I must, says the now enlightened convert, I must be drawn into living union with God as revealed in Jesus Christ. I can not rest till I find God, and have Him revealed to me as my everlasting refuge and strength.

Some years since, I preached a sermon for the purpose of developing the idea of the spiritual life. The minister for whom I preached said to me, I want to show you a letter written many years ago by a lady now in advanced age, and detailing her remarkable experience on this subject. After her conversion she found herself exceedingly weak, and often wondered if this was all the stability and strength she could hope for from Christ in His Gospel. Is this, she said, all that God can do for me? Long time and with much prayer she examined her Bible. At last she found, that below what she had ever read and examined before, there lay a class of passages which revealed the real Gospel—salvation from sinning. She saw the provisions of the Gospel in full relief. Then she shut herself up, determined to seek this blessing till she should find. Her soul went forth after God, seeking communion with Him, and the great blessing which she so deeply felt that she needed. She had found the needed promises in God’s Word, and now she held on upon them as if she could not let them go until they had all been fulfilled in her own joyful experience. She cried mightily to God. She said, ” If Thou dost not give me this blessing, I can never believe Thee again.”* In the issue the Lord showed her that the provisions were already made, and were just as full and as glorious as they needed to be or could be, and that she might receive them by faith if she would. In fact, it was plain that the Spirit of the Lord was pressing upon her acceptance, so that she had only to believe—to open wide her mouth that it might be filled. She saw and obeyed: then she became firm and strong. Christ had made her free. She was no longer in bondage; her Lord had absolutely enlarged her soul in faith and love, and triumphantly she could exclaim: Glory be to God! Christ hath made me free.

The state of mind expressed by hungering and thirsting is a real hunger and thirst, and terminates for its object upon the bread and water of life. These figures (if indeed they are to be regarded as figures at all) are kept up fully throughout the Bible, and all true Christians can testify to the fitness of the language to express the idea.

I have said that this state of mind implies conversion; for although the awakened sinner may have agonies and convictions, yet he has no clear conceptions of what this union with Christ is, nor does he clearly apprehend the need of a perfectly cleansed heart. He needs some experience of what holiness is, and often he seems also to need to have tasted some of the exceeding bitterness of sin as felt by one who has been near the Lord, before he shall fully apprehend this great spiritual want of being made a partaker indeed of Christ’s own perfect righteousness. By righteousness here, we are not to understand something imputed, but something real. It is imparted^ not imputed. Christ draw,s the souls of His people into such union with Himself, that they become “partakers of the divine nature,” or as elsewhere expressed, “partakers of His holiness.” For this the tried Christian pants. Having had a little taste of it, and then having tasted the bitterness of a relapse into sin, his soul is roused to most intense struggles to realize this blessed union with Christ.

A few words should now be said on what is implied in being filled with this righteousness.

Worldly men incessantly hunger and thirst after worldly good. But attainment never outstrips desire. Hence, they are never filled. There is always a conscious want which no acquisition of this sort of good can satisfy. It ij most remarkable that worldly men can never be filled with the things they seek. Well do the Scriptures say—This desire enlarges itself as hell, and is never satisfied. They really hunger and thirst the more by how much the more they obtain.

Let it be especially remarked that this being filled with righteousness is not perfection in the highest sense of this term. Men often use the term perfection, of that which is absolutely complete—a state which precludes improvement and beyond which there can be no progress. There can be no such perfection among Christians in any world—earth or heaven. It can pertain to no being but God. He, and He alone, is perfect beyond possibility of progress. All else but God are making progress—the wicked from bad to worse, the righteous from good to better. Instead of making no more progress in heaven, as some suppose, probably the law of progress is in a geometrical ratio; the more they have, the farther they will advance. I have often queried whether this law which seems to prevail here will operate there, viz., of what I may call impulsive progression. Here we notice that the mind from time to time gives itself to most intense exertion to make attainments in holiness. The attainment having been made, the mind for a season reposes, as if it had taken its meal and awaited the natural return of appetite before it should put forth its next great effort. May it not be that the same law of progress obtains even in heaven?

Here we see the operations of this law in the usual Christian progress. Intense longing and desire beget great struggling and earnest prayer; at lerjgth the special blessing sought is found, and for the time the soul seems to be filled to overflowing. It seems to be fully satisfied and to have received all it supposed possible and perhaps even more than was ever asked or thought. The soul cries out before the Lord, I did not know there was such fullness in store for Thy people. How wonderful that God should grant it to such an one as myself! The soul finds itself swallowed up and lost in the great depths and riches of such a blessing. Oh, how the heart pours itself out in the one most expressive petition: “Thy will be done on earth as in heaven!” All prayer is swallowed up in this. And then the praise^ the Fullness Of Praise! All struggle and agony are suspended: the soul seems to demand a rest from prayer that it may pour itself out in one mighty tide of praise. Some suppose that persons in this state will never again experience those longings after a new baptism; but in this they mistake. The meal they have had may last them a considerable time— longer, perhaps, than Elijah’s meal, on the strength of which he went forty days; but the time of comparative hunger will come round again, and they will gird themselves for a new struggle.

This is what is sometimes expressed as a baptism, an anointing, an unction, an ensealing of the Spirit, an earnest of the Spirit. All these terms are pertinent and beautiful to denote this special work of the Divine Spirit in the heart. They who experience it, know how well and aptly it is described as eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Lord Jesus, so really does the soul seem to live on Christ. It is also the bread and the water of life which are promised freely to him that is athirst. These terms may seem very mystical and unmeaning to those who have had no experience, but they are all plain to him who has known in his own soul what they mean. If you ask why figures of speech are used at all to denote spiritual things, you have the answer in the exigencies of the h^man mind in regard to apprehending spiritual things. Christ’s language must have seemed very mystical to His hearers, yet was it the best He could employ for His purpose. If any man will do His will, he shall know of His doctrine; but how can a selfish, debased, besotted, and withal disobedient mind expect to enter into the spiritual meaning of this language? How strangely must Christ’s words have sounded on the ears of Jewish priests: “God in us;” “The Holy Ghost dwelling in you;” “Ye shall abide in Me.” How could they understand these things? “The bread that came down from heaven,” what could this mean to them? They thought they understood about the manna from heaven, and they idolized Moses; but how to understand what this Nazarene said about giving them the true bread from heaven which should be for the life of the world, they could not see. No wonder they were confounded, having only legal ideas of religion, and having not even ^he most remote approximation to the idea of a living union with the Messiah for the purposes of spiritual life.

What are the conditions of receiving this fullness?

That the soul hunger and thirst for it, is the only condition specified in this passage. But we know it is very common to have promises made in the Bible, and yet not have all the conditions of the promise” stated in the same connection. If we find them elsewhere, we are to regard them as fixed conditions, and they are to be understood as implied where they are not expressed.

Elsewhere we are told that faith is a fundamental condition. Men must believe for it and receive it by faith. This is as naturally necessary as receiving and eating wheat bread is for the sustenance of the body. Ordinary food * must be taken into the system by our own voluntary act. We take and eat; then the system appropriates. So faith receives and appropriates the bread of life.

In general it is found true that before Christians will sufficiently apprehend the relations of this supply to their wants and to the means of supplying them, this hunger and thirst becomes very intense, so as to overpower and cast into insignificance all their other appetites and desires. As by a general law one master passion throws all minor ones into the shade, and may sometimes suspend them for a season entirely, so we find in this case a soul intensely hungering and thirsting after righteousness almost forgets to hunger and thirst even after its common food and drinks. Place before him his study-books, he can not bring his mind to relish them now. Invite him to a singing-concert, he has no taste that way at present. Ask him into company, his mind is pressing in another direction. He longs to find God, and can take but little interest in any other friend at present. Offer him worldly society, and you will find he takes the least possible interest in it. He knows such companions will not understand what his soul so intensely craves, and of course it were vain to look for sympathy in that quarter.

It is an important condition that the mind should have somewhat clear apprehensions of the thing needed and of the means of obtaining it. Effort can not be well directed unless the subject be in some good measure understood. What is that ensealing of the Spirit? What is this baptism? I must by all means see what this is before I can intelligently seek it and hope to gain it. True, no man can know before experience as he can and will know afterwards; but he can learn something before and often much more after the light of experience shines in upon his soul. There is no more mystification than there is in hungering for a good dinner, and being refreshed by it after you have eaten it.

Again, if we would have this fullness, we must be sure to believe this promise and all this class of promises. We must regard them as truly promises of God—dXX yea and amen in Christ Jesus, and as good for our souls to rely upon as the promise of pardon to the penitent and believing.

Yet again we must ask and insist upon their fulfillment to our souls. We are authorized to expect it in answer to our faith. We should be first certain that we ask in sincerity, and then should expect the blessing just as we always expect God to be faithful to His word. Why not? Has He said and shall He not do it? Has He promised and shall He not perform?

We must believe that the promise implies a full supply. Our faith must not limit the power or the grace of Christ. The Christian is not straitened in God. Let him take care, therefore, that he do not straiten himself by his narrow conceptions of what God can do and loves to do for His hungering and thirsting children. Often there is need of great perseverance in the search for this blessing. Because of the darkness of the mind and the smallness of its faith the way may not for a long time be prepared for the full bestowment of this great blessing.

Remarks.

I. The Antinomian Perfectionists mistook the meaning of this and of similar passages. They supposed that whoever believes gets so filled as never to thirst any more. But the fact is, the mind may rise higher and higher, making still richer attainments in holiness at each rising grade of progress. It may indeed find many resting-places, as Bunyan gives to his pilgrim—here at the top of the hill Difficulty, there on the Delectable Mountains, where he passes through scenes of great triumph, great faith and great joy in God. Subsequently to these scenes will occur other periods of intense desire for new baptisms of the Spirit and for a new ascent upon the heights of the divine life. This is to be the course of things so Jong at least as we remain in the flesh, and perhaps forever. Perhaps the blest spirits in heaven will never reach a point beyond which there shall not be the same experience—new developments of God made to the mind, and by this means new stages of progress and growth in holiness. With what amazement shall we then study these stages of progress, and admire to look abroa4 over the jiew fields of knowledge successively opened, and the corresponding developments of mental power and of a holy character, all which stand related to these manifestations of God as effects to their cause! What new and glorious views have been bursting upon us, fast as we could bear them, for myriads of ages! Looking back over the past, we shall say— Oh, this everlasting progress—this is indeed the blessedness of heaven! How far does this transcend our highest thought when we looked forward to heaven from the dim distance of our earthly pilgrimage! Here there is no end to the disclosures to be made, nor to the truths to be learned.

If there was to be no more food, how could there be any more spiritual thirst and spiritual hunger? How, indeed, could there be more spiritual joy? Suppose that somewhere in the lapse of heaven’s eternal ages, we should reach a point where nothing more remains to be learned—not another thing to be inquired after—not another fact to be investigated, or truth to be known. Alas, what a blow to the bliss ot heaven!

We are told that the angels are desiring to look into the things of salvation. Oh, yes; when they saw our Messiah born they were allowed to come sc near us with their joyous outbursts of praise that even mortals could hear. Do you not suppose those angels too are growing in, grace, and advancing in knowledge? No doubt they are, most wonderfully, and have been ever since they came into being.

How much more they must know of God now than they did before our world was created! And how much more they have yet to learn from God’s government over our race! Think you they have no more desires after the knowledge of God? And have they no more desire to rise to yet higher conformity of heart and character to the great Model of Heaven?

If so with angels, surely not less so with their younger brethren—the holy who are redeemed from among men.

You might suppose, that by studying in this school for a few days, you would learn all human science. This were a great mistake. You might master many sciences and still have other heights to ascend—other vast fields of knowledge to explore. You might have the best of human teachers and the best possible opportunities for learning, yet still it would be enough to occupy you the length of many lives to master all there is in even human science. The mind is not made to be so filled to satiety that it craves no more—can receive no more. Like the trees planted on the rivers of the waters of life, which bring forth twelve manner of fruits and whose roots go deep and drink largely of those blessed waters—so is the mind which God has endowed with the functions oi immortal progress.

As our ideal becomes elevated, and we see higher points to which we may arise, we shall have more enkindlings of desire, and more intense struggles to advance. What Christian does not find, as he reads the Bible over, new and deeper strata of meaning never seen before—new truths revealed and new beauties displayed. Old father O. used to say—” I am reading the Word of God. It is deep and rich, like the great heart of its Author. I have read now two hours and have not got over but two verses. It will take me to all eternity to read it through.” So it was. He really found more in the Bible than other men did. He went deeper, and the deeper he went, the richer did he find its precious ores of gold and silver.

So the Psalmist says—” Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” Have you not been so ravished with love to this blessed book that you wanted to clasp it to your bosom and become purified with its spirit? As you go down into its depths and find in each successive stratum of its deep thoughts new beauties and new fields of truth to explore, have you not been filled with intense desire to live long enough and have time and strength enough to see, to learn, and to enjoy it all? Like the successive landscapes as you ascend the lofty mountain’s side, at each stage you see them spreading out in grander beauty and broader range—so, as you really study into the great and rich things of God’s spiritual kingdom, there is no limit to this sweep of the knowledge of God; for the fields only become the broader and the more enchanting as you ascend. Do you not think that his soul must be truly blessed who eats and drinks and fills his soul with divine righteousness?

2. I am strongly impressed with the conviction that some of you need a new development of the spiritual life. You need to go deeper into the knowledge of God as revealed in the soul; you need to hunger and thirst more intensely, and be by this means filled as you have not often been as yet. Even though you may have tasted that the Lord is gracious, you yet need to eat and drink largely at His table. It will not avail you to live on those old dinners, long past and long since digested. You want a fresh meal. It is time for you to say—” I must know more about this being filled with righteousness. My soul languishes for this heavenly food. I must come again into this banqueting house to be feasted again with His love.”

3. The full soul can not be satisfied to enjoy its rich spiritual provisions alone. If well fed himself, he will be only more exercised to see others also fed and blessed. The Spirit of Christ in his heart is a spirit of love, and this can never rest except as it sees others reaching the same standard of attainment and enjoyment which is so delightful to itself.

4. Real Christians should be, and in the main they will be, growing better and holier as they come nearer heaven. On the other hand, how great and fearful is the contrast between an aged growing Christian and an aged sinner growing in depravity and guilt! The one is ripening for heaven, the other for hell. The one goes on praising and loving, laboring and suffering for God and for his generation according to the will of God; but the other goes on his downward course, scolding and cursing as he goes, abhorred of men and disowned of his Maker. You have seen the awful contrast. You could hardly believe that two men so unlike were both raised in the same township, taught in the same school, instructed in the same religious assembly, and presented with the same Gospel; and yet see how manifestly the one is saved and the other damned. Each bears the sign beforehand—the palpable, unmistakable evidence of the destiny that awaits him.

5. Is it not full time that each one of you who has any spiritual life should stand out before the world and put on your beautiful garments? Let all the world see that there is a power and a glory in the Gospel, such as human philosophy never has even approached. Show that the Gospel begets purity and peace. Show that it enlarges the heart and opens the hand for the good of all human kind. Show that it conquers selfishness and transforms the soul from hate to love.

Sinners, ye who have earthly hunger and thirst enough, let your ears be opened to hear the glad tidings of real salvation. Ye whose hearts have never known solid peace—ye who are forever desiring, yet never satisfied—ye who cry in your inmost souls: O for office! O for honor ! O for wealth! See, here is that which is better far than all you seek. Here are durable riches and righteousness. Here are the first installments of pleasures that flow forever at God’s right hand. Here is heaven proffered and even pressed upon your regard and your choice. Choose life before, death, as you would be wise for your eternal well-being.

 



Paul’s Prayer: The Measure of Immeasurable Power

by the Bible Study Tools | There are two measures of the immeasurable power ; the one is that infinite limit of “the power which He wrought in Christ,” and the other the practical limit—the working bound of our spiritual life is our faith.

That ye may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ.—Eph. i. 19, 20.“The riches of the glory of the inheritance” will sometimes quench rather than stimulate hope. He can have little depth of religion who has not ‘often felt that the transcendent glory of that promised future sharpens the doubt—” and can I ever hope to reach it?” Our paths are strewn with battlefields where we were defeated; how should we expect the victor’s wreath? And so Paul does not think that he has asked all which his friends in Ephesus need when he has asked that they may know the hope and the inheritance. There is something more wanted, something more even for our knowledge of these, and that is the knowledge of the power which alone can fulfill the hope and bring the inheritance. His language swells and peals and becomes exuberant and noble with his theme. He catches fire, as it were, as he thinks about this power that worketh in us. It is “exceeding.” Exceeding what? He does not tell us, but other words in this letter, in the other great prayer which it contains may help us to supply the missing words. He speaks of the “love of Christ which passeth knowledge,” and of God being “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” The power which is really at work in Christian men to-day is in its nature properly transcendent and immeasurable, and passes thought and desire and knowledge.And yet it has a measure. “According to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ.” Is that heaping together of synonyms, or all but synonyms, mere tautology? Surely not. Commentators tell us that they can distinguish differences of meaning between the words, in that the first of them is the more active and outward, and the last of them is the more inward. And so they liken them to fruit and branch and root; but we need simply say that the gathering together of words so nearly co-extensive in their meaning is witness to the effort to condense the infinite within the bounds of human tongue,to speak the unspeakable; and that these reiterated expressions, like the blows of the billows that succeed one another on the beach, are hints of the force of the infinite ocean that lies behind,

And then the Apostle, when he has once come in sight of his risen Lord, as is his wont, is swept away by the ardour of his faith and the clearness of his vision, and breaks from his purpose to dilate on the glories of his King. We do not need to follow him into that. I limit myself this morning to the words which I have read as my text, with only such reference to the magnificent passage which succeeds as may be necessary for the exposition of this.

I.—So, then, I ask you to look, first, at the measure and example of the immeasurable power that works in Christian men.

“According to the working of the strength of the might which he wrought in Christ.” The Resurrection, the Ascension, the session at the right hand of God, the rule over all creatures, and the exaltation above all things on earth or in the heavens —these are the things which the Apostle brings before us as the pattern-work, the chef-d'(euvre ot the power that is operating in all Christians. The present glories of the ascended Christ are glories possessed by a man, and that being so, they are available as evidences and measures of the power which works in believing souls. In them we see the possibilities of humanity, the ideal for man which God had when He created and breathed His blessing upon him. It is one of ourselves who has strength enough to bear the burden of the glory, one of ourselves who can stand within the blaze of encircling and indwelling Divinity and be unconsumed. The possibilities of human nature are manifest there. If we want to know what the Divine power can make of us, let us turn to look with the eye of faith upon what it has made of Jesus Christ.

But such a thought, glorious as it is, still leaves room for doubt as to my personal attainment of such an ideal. Possibility is much, but we need solid certainty. And we find it in the truth that the bond between Christ and those who truly love and trust Him is such as that the possibility must become a reality and be consolidated into a certainty. The Vine and its branches, the members and their Head, the Christ and His Church, are knit together by such closeness of union as that wheresoever and whatsoever the one is, there and that must the others also be. Therefore, when doubts and fears, and consciousness of my own weakness, creep across me, and all my hopes are dimmed, as some star in the heavens is when a light mist floats between us and it, let us turn away to Him our brotber, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and think that He, in His calm exaltation and regal authority and infinite blessedness, is not only the pattern of what humanity may be, but the pledge of what His Church must be. “Where I am, there shall also My servant be.” “The glory that Thou gavest Me I have given them.”

Nor is that all. Not only a possibility and a certainty for the future are for us the measure of the power that worketh in us, but as this same letter teaches us, we have, as Christians, a present scale by which we may estimate the greatness of the power. For in the next chapter, after that glorious burst as to the dignity of his Lord, which we have not the heart to call a digression, the Apostle, recurring to the theme of my text, goes on to say, ” And you hath He quickened,” and then, catching it up a verse or two afterwards, reiterates clause by clause what had been done on Jesus as having been done on us Christians. If that Divine Spirit raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, it is as true that the same power hath “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And so not only the far-off, though real and brilliant, and eye-andheart-filling glories of the ascended Christ give us the measure of the power, but also the limited experience of the present Christian life, the fact of the resurrection from the true death, the death of sin, the fact of union with Jesus Christ so real and close as that they who truly experience it do live, as far as the roots of their lives are concerned, and the scope and the aim of them, ” in the heavens,” and “sit with Him in heavenly places”—these things afford us the measure of the power that worketh in us.

Then, because a Man is King of kings and Lord of lords; and because He who is our Life “is exalted high above all principalities and powers “; and because from His throne He has quickened us from the death of sin, and has drawn us so near to Himself that if we are His we truly live beside Him, even whilst we stumble here in the darkness, we may know the exceeding greatness of His power, according to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.

II.—Secondly, notice the knowledge of the unknowable power.

We have already come across the same apparent paradox, covering a deep truth, in the former sections of this series of petitions. I need only remind you, in reference to this matter, that the knowledge which is here in question is not the intellectual perception of a fact as revealed in Scripture, but is that knowledge to which alone the New Testament gives the noble name, being knowledge verified by inward expedience, and the result of one’s own personal acquaintance with its object.

How do we know a power? By thrilling beneath its force. How are we to know the greatness of the power but because it comes surging and rejoicing into our aching emptiness, and lifts us buoyant above our temptations and weakness? Paul was not asking for these people theological conceptions. He was asking that their spirits should be so saturated with and immersed in that great ocean of force that pours from God as that they should never, henceforth, be able to doubt the greatness of that power which wrought in them. The knowledge that comes from experience is the knowledge that we all ought to seek. It is not merely to be desired that we should have right and just conceptions, but that we should have the vital knowledge which is, and which comes from, life eternal.

And that power, which thus we may all know by feeling it working upon ourselves, though it be immeasurable, has its measure; though it be, in its depth and fulness, unknowable and inexhaustible, may yet be really and truly known. You do not need a thunderstorm to experience the electric shock; a battery that you can carry in your pocket will do that for you. You do not need to have traversed all the length and breadth and depth and height of some newly discovered country to be sure of its existence, and to have a real, though it may be a vague, conception of the magnitude of its shores. And so, really, though boundedly, we have the knowledge of God, and can rely upon it as valid, though partial; and similarly, by experience, we have such a certified acquaintance with Him and His power as needs no enlargement to be trusted, and to become the source of blessings untold. We may see but a strip of the sky through the narrow chinks of our prison windows, and many a grating may further intercept the view, and much dust that might be cleared away may dim the glass, but yet it is the sky that we see, and we can think of the great horizon circling round and round, and of the infinite depths above there, which neither eye nor thought can travel unwearied. Though all that we see be but an inch in breadth and a foot or two in height, yet we do see. We know the unknowable power that passeth knowledge.

And let me remind you of how large importance this knowledge of and constant reference to the measureless power manifested in Christ is for us. I believe there can be no vigorous, happy, Christian life without it. It is our only refuge from pessimism and despair for the world. The old psalm said, “Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honour, and hast given Him dominion over the works of Thy hands.” And hundreds of years afterwards the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews commented on it thus, ” We see not yet all things put under Him.” Was the old vision a dream, was it ever intended to be fulfilled? Apparently not, if we take the history of the past into account; and the centuries that have passed since the Epistle have done nothing to make it more probable, apart from Jesus Christ, that man will rise to the height which the Psalmist dreamed of. When we look at the exploded Utopias that fill the past; when we think of the strange and apparently fatal necessity by which evil is developed from every stage of what men call progress, and how improvement is perverted almost as soon as effected, into another fortress of weakness and misery; when we look on the world as it is to-day, I know not whence a man is to draw bright hopes, or what is to deliver him from pessimism as his last word about himself and his fellows, except the ” working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ.” “We see not yet all things put under Him.” Be it so, “but we see Jesus,” and looking to Him, hope is possible, reasonable, and imperative.

The same knowledge is our refuge from our own consciousness of weakness. We look up, as a climber may do in some Alpine ravine, upon the smooth gleaming walls of the cliff that rises above him. It is marble, it is fair, there are lovely lands on the summit, but nothing that has not wings can get there. We try, and we slip backwards almost as much as we rise. What is to be done? Are we to sit down at the foot of the cliff and say, “We cannot climb, let us be content with the luscious herbage and sheltered ease below “? Yes! That is what we are tempted to say. But look! A mighty hand reaches over, an arm is stretched down, the hand grasps us and lifts us and sets us there.

“No man hath ascended up into Heaven save He that came down from Heaven,” and having returned thither, stoops thence, and will lift us to Himself. I am a poor weak creature. Yes! I am all full of sin and corruption. Yes! I am ashamed of myself every day. Yes! I am too heavy to climb, and have no wings to fly, and am bound here by chains manifold. Yes! But we know the exceeding greatness of the power, and we triumph in Him.

That knowledge should shame us into contrition, when we think of such force at our disposal, and so poor results. That knowledge should widen our conceptions, enlarge our desires, breathe a brave confidence into our hopes, should teach us to expect great things of God, and to be intolerant of present attainments, whilst anything remains unattained. And it should stimulate our vigorous effort, for no man will long seek to be better, if he is convinced that the effort is hopeless.

Learn to realize the exceeding greatness of the power that will clothe your weakness. “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, for that He is strong in might, not one faileth.” That is wonderful, but here is a far nobler operation of the Divine power. It is great to preserve the ancient heavens fresh and strong by His might, but it is greater to come down to my weakness, to “give power to the faint,” and “increase strength to them that have no might.” And that is what He will do with us.

III.—Lastly, notice the conditions for the operation of the power.

“To usvvard who believe,” says Paul. He has been talking to these Ephesians, and saying “ye,” but now, by that “us,” he places himself beside them, identifies himself with them, and declares that all his gifts and strength come to him on precisely the same conditions on which theirs do to them ; and that he, like them, is a waiter upon that grace which God bestows on them that trust Him.

“To usward who believe.” Once more we are back at the old truth which we can never make too emphatic and plain, that the one condition of the weakest among us being strong with the strength of the Lord is simple trust in Him, verified, of course, by continuance and by effort.

How did the water go into the Ship Canal at Eastham last week? First of all they cut a trench, and then they severed the little strip of land between the hole and the sea, and the sea did the rest. The wider and deeper the opening that we make in our natures by our simple trust in God, the fuller will be the rejoicing flood that pours into us. There is an old story about a Christian father, who, having been torturing himself with theological speculations about the nature of the Trinity, fell asleep and dreamed that he was emptying the ocean with a thimble! Well, you cannot empty it with a thimble, but you can go to it with one, and if you have only a thimble in your hand you will only bring away a thimbleful. The measure of your faith is the measure of God’s power given to you.

There are two measures of the immeasurable power ; the one is that infinite limit of “the power which He wrought in Christ,” and the other the practical limit—the working bound of our spiritual life is our faith. In plain English, we can have as much of God as we want. We do have as much as we want. And if. in touch with the power that can shatter a universe, we only get a little thrill that is scarcely perceptible to ourselves, and all unnoticed by others, whose fault is that? And if, coming to the fountain that laughs at drought and can fill a universe with its waters, we scarcely bear away a straitened drop or two, that barely refresh our parched lips, and do nothing to stimulate the growth of the plants of holiness in our gardens, whose fault is that? The practical measure of our power is for us the measure of our belief and desire. And if we only go to Him as I pray we all may, and continue there, and ask from Him strength, according to the riches that are treasured in Jesus Christ, we shall get the old answer, “According to your faith be it unto you.”



Love’s Measure

by The Bible Study Tools | “The breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”—Bph. iii. 18.

Op what? There can, I think, be no doubt as to the answer. The next clause is evidently the continuation of the idea begun in that of our text, and it runs ;” and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” It is the immeasurable measure, then; the boundless bounds and dimensions of the love of Christ which fire the Apostle’s thoughts here. Of course, he had no separate idea in his mind attaching to each of these measures of magnitude, but he gathered them together simply to express the one thought of the greatness of Christ’s love. Depth and height are the same dimension measured from opposite ends. The one begins at the top and goes down, the other begins at the bottom and goes up, but the surface is the same in either case. So we have the three dimensions of a solid here—breadth, length, and depth.

I suppose that I may venture to use these expressions with a somewhat different purpose from that for which the Apostle employs them ; and to see in each of them a separate and blessed aspect of the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I. What, then, is the breadth of that love?

It is as broad as humanity. As all the stars lie in the firmament, so all creatures rest in the Heaven of His love. Mankind has many common characteristics. We all suffer, we all sin, we all hunger, we all aspire, hope, and die ; and, blessed be God! we all occupy precisely the same relation to the Divine love which lies in Jesus Christ. There are no step-children in God’s great family, and none of them receive a more grudging or a less ample share of His love and goodness than every other. Far-stretching as the race, and curtaining it over as some great tent may enclose on a festal day a whole tribe, the breadth of Christ’s love is the breadth of humanity.

And it is universal because it is Divine. No human mind can be stretched so as to comprehend the whole of the members of mankind, and no human heart can be so emptied of self as to be capable of this absolute universality and impartiality of affection. But the intellectual difficulties which stand in the way of the width of our affections and the moral difficulties which stand still more frowningly and forbiddingly in the way, have no power over that love of Christ’s which is close and tender, and clinging with all the tenderness and closeness and clingingness of a human affection and lofty and universal and passionless and perpetual, with all the height and breadth and calmness and eternity of a Divine heart.

And this broad love, broad as humanity, is not shallow because it is broad. Our love is too often like the estuary of some great stream which runs deep and mighty as long as it is held within narrow banks, but as soon as it widens becomes slow and powerless and shallow. The intensity of human affection varies inversely as its extension. A universal philanthropy is a passionless sentiment. But Christ’s love is deep though it is wide, and suffers no diminution because it is shared amongst a multitude. It is like the great feast that He Himself spread for five thousand men, women, and children, all seated at a table, “and they did all eat and were filled.”

The whole love is the property of each recipient of it He does not love as we do, who give a part of our heart to this one and a part to that one, and share the treasure of our affections amongst a multitude. All this gift belongs to every one, just as all the sunshine comes to every eye, and as every beholder sees the moon’s path across the dark waters, stretching from the place where he stands to the centre of light.

This broad love, universal as humanity, and deep as it is broad, is universal because it is individual. You and I have to generalise, as we say, when we try to extend our affections beyond the limits of household and family and personal friends, and the generalising is a sign of weakness and limitation. Nobody can love an abstraction, but God’s love and Christ’s love do not proceed in that fashion. He individualises, loving each and therefore loving all. It is because every man has a space in his heart singly and separately and conspicuously, that all men have a place there. So our task is to individualise this broad, universal love, and to say, in the simplicity of a glad faith, ” Ha loved me and gave Himself for me.” The breadth is world-wide, and the whole breadth is condensed into, if I may so say, a shaft of light which may find its way through the narrowest clink of a single soul. There are two ways of arguing about the love of Christ, both of them valid, and both of them needing to be employed by us. We have a right to say, “He loves all, therefore He loves me.” And we have a right to say, “He lores me, therefore He loves all.” For surely the love that has stooped to me can never pass by any human soul.

What is the breadth of the love of Christ? It is broad as mankind, it is narrow as myself.

II.—Then, in the next place, what is the length of the love of Christ?

If •we are to think of Him only as a man, however exalted and however perfect, you and I have nothing in the world to do with His love. When He was here on earth it may have been sent down through the ages in some vague way, as the shadowy ghost of love may rise in the heart of a great statesman or philanthropist for generations yet unborn, which he dimly sees will be affected by his sacrifice and service. But we do not call that love. Such a poor, pale, shadowy thing has no right to the warm throbbing name; has no right to demand from us any answering thrill of affection. Unless you think of Jesus Christ as something more and other than the purest and the loftiest benevolence that ever dwelt in human form, I know of no intelligible sense in which the length of His love can be stretched to touch you.

If we content ourselves with that altogether inadequate and lame conception of Him and of His nature, of course there is no present bond between any man upon earth and Him, and it is absurd to talk about His present love as extending in any way to me. But we have to believe, rising to the full height of the Christian conception of the nature and person of Christ, that when He was here on earth the Divine that dwelt in Him so informed and inspired the human as that the love of His man’s heart was able to grasp the whole, and to separate the individuals that should make up the race till the end of time; so as that you and I, looking back over all the centuries, and asking ourselves what is the length of the love of Christ, can say, “It stretches over all the years, and it reached then as it reaches now to touch me, upon whom the ends of the earth have come.” Its length is conterminous with the duration of humanity here or yonder.

That thought of eternal being, when we refer it to God, towers above us and repels us; and when we turn it to ourselves and think of our own life as unending, there come a strangeness and an awe that is almost shrinking, over the thoughtful spirit. But when we transmute it into the thought of a love whose length is unending, then over all the shoreless, misty, melancholy sea of eternity, there gleams a light, and every wavelet flashes up into glory. It is a dreadful thing to think, “For ever, Thou art God.” It is a solemn thing to think “For ever I am to be;” but it is life to say :—” 0 Christ! Thy love endureth from everlasting to everlasting; and because it lives. I shall live also—” “Oh ! give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.”

There is another measure of the length of the lore of Christ. “Master! How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him ?—I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven.”—So said the Christ, multiplying perfection into itself twice—two sevens and a ten—in order to express the idea of boundlessness. And the law that He laid down for His servant is the law that binds Himself. What is the length of the love of Christ? Here is one measure of it,—howsoever long drawn out my sin may be, this is longer; and the white line of His love runs out into infinity, far beyond the point where the black line of my sin stops. Anything short of eternal patience would have been long ago exhausted by your sins and mine, and our brethren’s. But the pitying Christ, the eternal Lover of all wandering souls, looks down from Heaven upon every one of us; goes with us in all our wanderings, bear with us in all our sins, in all cur transgressions still is gracious. His pleadings sound on, like some stop in an organ continuously persistent through all the other notes. And round His throne are written the Divine words which have been spoken about our human love modelled after His “Charity suffereth long and is kind ; is not easily provoked, is not soon angry, beareth all things.” The length of the love of Christ is the length of eternity, and out-measures all human sin.

III.—Then again, what is the depth of that love?

Depth and height, as I said at the beginning of these remarks, are but two ways of expressing the same dimension. For the one we begin at the top and measure down, for the other we begin at the bottom and measure up. The top is the Throne ; and the downward measure, how is it to be stated? In what terms of distance are we to express it? How far is it from the Throne of the Universe to the manger at Bethlehem, and the Cross at Calvary, and the sepulchre in the garden? That is the depth of the love of Christ. Howsoever far may be the distance from that loftiness of co-equal Divinity in the bosom of the Father, and radiant with glory, to the lowliness of the form of a servant, and the sorrows, limitations, rejections, pains and death—that is the measure of the depth of Christ’s love. We can estimate the depth of the love of Christ by saying “He came from above, He tabernacled with us,” as if some planet were to burst from its track and plunge downwards in amongst the mist and the narrowness of our earthly atmosphere.

A well-known modern scientist has hazarded the speculation that the origin of life on this planet, has been the falling upon it of the fragment of a meteor, or an aerolite from some other system, with a speck of organic life upon it, from which all has developed. Whatever may be the case in regard of the physical life, that is absolutely true in the case of spiritual life. It all originates because this Heaven-descended Christ has come down the long staircase of Incarnation, and has brought with Him into the clouds and oppressions of our terrestrial atmosphere a germ of life which He has planted in the heart of the race, there to spread for ever. That is the measure of the depth of the love of Christ.

And there is another way to measure it. My sins are deep, my helpless miseries are deep, but they are shallow as compared with the love that goes down beneath all sin, that is deeper than all sorrow, that is deeper than all necessity, that shrinks from no degradation, that turns away from no squalor, that abhors no wickedness so as to avert its face from it The purest passion of human benevolence cannot but sometimes be aware of disgust mingling with its pity and its efforts, but Christ’s love comes down to the most sunken. However far in the abyss of degradation any human soul has descended, beneath it are the everlasting arms, and beneath it is Christ’s love. When a coalpit gets blocked up by some explosion no brave rescuing party will venture to descend into the lowest depths of the poisonous darkness until some ventilation has been restored. But this loving Christ goes down, down, down into the thickest, most pestilential atmosphere, reeking with sin and corruption, and stretches out a rescuing hand to the most abject and undermost of all the victims. How deep is the love of Christ? The deep mines of sin and of alienation are all undermined and countermined by His love. Sin is an abyss, a mystery, how deep only they know who have fought against it; but

“O Love I thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallowed up in tbee.”

“I will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” The depth’s of Christ’s love go down beneath all human necessity, sorrow, suffering, and sin.

IV.—And, lastly, what is the height of the love of Christ?

We found that the way to measure the depth was to begin at the Throne, and go down to the Cross, and to the foul abysses of evil. The way to measure the height is to begin at the Cross and the foul abysses of evil, and to go up to the Throne. That is to say, the topmost thing in the Universe, the shining apex and pinnacle, glittering away up there in the radiant unsetting light, is the love of God in Jesus Christ. The other conceptions of that Divine nature spring high above us and tower beyond our thoughts, but the summit of them all, the very topmost as it is the very bottom-most, outside of everything, and therefore high above everything, is the love of God which has been revealed to us all, and brought close to us sinful men in the manhood and passion of our dear Christ.

And that love which thus towers above us, and gleams like the shining cross on the top of some lofty cathedral spire, does not flash up there inaccessible, nor lie before us like some pathless precipice, up which nothing that has not wings can ever hope to rise, but the height of the love of Christ is an hospitable height, which can be scaled by us. Nay, rather, that heaven of love which is “higher than our thoughts,” bends down, as by a kind of optical delusion the physical heaven seems to do, towards each of us, only with this blessed difference, that in the natural world the place where heaven touches earth is always the furthest point of distance from us; and in the spiritual world, the place where Heaven stoops to me is always right over my head, and the nearest possible point to me. He has come to lift us to Himself. And this is the height of His love, that it bears us up, if we will, up and up to sit upon that throne where He Himself is enthroned.

So, brethren, Christ’s love is round about us all, as some sunny tropical sea may embosom in its violet waves a multitude of luxuriant and happy islets. So all of us islanded on our little individual lives, lie in that great ocean of love, all the dimensions of which are immeasurable, and which stretches above, beneath, around, shoreless, tideless, bottomless, endless.

But, remember, this ocean of love yon can shut out of your lives. It is possible to plunge a jar into midAtlantic, further than soundings have ever descended, and to bring it up on deck as dry inside as if it had been lying on an oven. It is possible for men and women— and I have them listening to me at this moment—to live and move and have their being in that sea of love, and never to have let one drop of its richest gifts into their hearts or their lives. Open your hearts for Him to come in, by humble faith in His great sacrifice for you. For, if Christ dwell in your heart by faith, then and only then will experience be your guide ; and you will be able to comprehend the boundless greatness, the endless duration, and absolute perfection, and to know the love of Christ •which passeth knowledge.

 



The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers

by Dave Doran | The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers is evidenced by a genuine concern about sin that looks first at ourselves, then outward to help others.

One of the great blessings of my current ministry is that I get to teach seminarians each week and preach in the chapel regularly. I often try to preach from texts of Scripture that I think will help shape the ministry mindset of future pastors and missionaries. Yesterday, I chose to preach from Matthew 7:1-5 and urge the men to guard themselves against the hypocritical mindset which the Lord confronts there.

The first part of verse 1 is perhaps one of the most often quoted and misused texts of Scripture. “Do not judge” is an oft-abused trump card in debates. It seems clear that Jesus is not against judgment, but against a certain kind of judgment. The context makes that clear–just a few verses later He tells them to watch out for false prophets and that they can know them by their fruits, something which obviously requires the exercise of judgment. John 7:24 is helpful in differentiating the two kinds of judgment, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Jesus is confronting a wrong kind of judging in Matthew 7:1-5, not all judgment.

Specifically, the reason that our Lord points out the hypocrisy of the judges in Matthew 7 is because they are not genuinely concerned about sin or about helping other people. If they were concerned about sin, they would deal with their own first. The fact that the person ignores the beam in his own eye while worrying about the speck in his brother’s eye shows that. If he really cared about sin, he wouldn’t ignore his own. If he really was concerned about the other person, he would take care of his own sin so that he could see clearly to help him. By ignoring his vision-impairing beam, he makes it clear that he really isn’t trying to help the speck-afflicted brother, but thinks himself better than him.

The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers is evidenced by a genuine concern about sin that looks first at ourselves, then outward to help others. Phony, hypocritical concern about sin doesn’t deal with our own first, it focuses on the sins of others. My charge to the future pastors and missionaries was simply to not allow that phony spirit to invade their lives or ministries. If we, as leaders, are going to be genuinely serious about sin, then that starts by looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word.

It is much easier to point out where others are falling short than to admit and address our own errors. As leaders, though, refusing to acknowledge and act to correct our failures not only reveals a flaw in our character, it undermines the credibility of our claims to be concerned about wrong. How can anybody take the claim that we want to do what is right (by dealing with other people’s problems) when it is obvious that we don’t (by not dealing with our own)?

Few things, from my vantage point, undermine the leadership of parents, pastors, or ministries more than this kind of hypocrisy. The parent who quickly and strongly rebukes a child for wrong, while ignoring his or her own failures as a parent eventually loses the trust of the child. A pastor who confronts sin in the lives of church members, but fails to confront it in himself undermines his own spiritual leadership. A ministry or organization, for example, that exists chiefly to point out the disobedience of other people and ministries, but refuses to correct its own failures as aggressively loses its credibility by demonstrating that obedience isn’t really the controlling principle which governs it.

Jesus answer for judgmentalism is not to reject proper judgment, but to exercise it first with regard to ourselves. If we really care about sin, we’ll deal with the beams before we talk about specks. We’ll start in the mirror, not in somebody else’s eye.

David M. Doran, Senior PastorPastor David M. Doran has been the senior pastor at Inter-City Baptist Church since 1989. He leads through sound biblical preaching and teaching both in the church and at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Claudia, have four sons: David (wife, Abi), Daniel (wife, Melissa), Dillon (wife, Emily), and Derek (wife, Jen). Connect via E-mail Pastor Doran

 



The Contrasted Aime and Parallel Methods of the World and the Christian

by Bible Study Tools | "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible."—! Cor. ix. 25. (biblestudytools.com)

The imagery which the Apostle employs here is drawn from objects very familiar to the Corinthian Christians. A set of the most illustrious of the games of Greece was celebrated every third year within sight of their city. Every one of them had no doubt seen the stadium, or racecourse, of which he speaks in the previous verse, with its white marble seats crowded with eager spectators. They had all witnessed the racers straining every muscle to be first at the goal; and had marked the contrast between the many who failed, and slunk unnoticed into the crowd, and the one victor, received with a roar of welcoming applause. They knew the severe and long-protracted discipline of abstinence and exercise which was needful to give even a chance of success, and they understood what was the prize of all this effort—a twist of pine-leaves from the grove round the temple of the god. So all these points the Apostle seizes in order to enforce the lesson of self-denial which he has been avowing as the law of his own life, and desires to press upon his brethren of Corinth. For that purpose he suggests a parallel and a contrast. The aims are wonderfully unlike, but the methods are identical. What were all the discipline and toil and pains of the racer for? A garland that would wither before the brows had become accustomed to it. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible." And yet their effort for an unworthy end is worthy to be our pattern and our stimulus for the loftiest end that men can set before them. So this poor runner is both a beacon and an example—a beacon in regard of what he chooses for his• object; an example in regard of the noble and the wise way by which he pursues it. We have, then, here a double contrast—the world's sad folly in its aims, and noble wisdom in its methods, and the Christian's wisdom in hi& aims, and alas! too often folly in his means. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown." Do we do it to obtain an incorruptible?

I.—Here we get, in a symbolical and picturesque fashion, the preaching of the world's sad folly in its ordinary aims.

The wreath of oak, or ivy, or laurel, or parsley, or vine which was twined round the brows of the victors in the various games of Greece was, of course, not what he ran for. It was only a symbol, and its entirely valueless character made it all the more valuable. Far better that it should be a twist of greenery that would soon fade, than silver cups or anything of material worth. For it expressed simply honour, pre-eminence, the joy of success, reputation. In front of the temple that presided over the games with which the Corinthians were familiar, was a long avenue,, on either side of which stood ranged in order the white marble portrait-statues of the victors; and the hope that flushed many a man's face was that his image, with his name on its pedestal, should stand there. And where ar& they all? Their names forgotten, the ma•.•ble likenesses gone, buried beneath the green-sward, over which the shepherd to-day pastures his quiet flocks.

"So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortal life, the leaf, the bud, the flower."

And all our pursuits, unless they be linked consciously and by repeated effort with eternity and with God, are as evanescent and as disproportioned to the magnitude and the capacities of us, the doers of them, as was the wreath for which months of discipline, and moments of almost superhuman effort, were considered but a small price to• pay.

Oh, dear friends, surely I need not press upon you this lesson, that it is folly for men to take as the object of their lives and the aim of their efforts, the things that are• shorter lived than the men that work for them. Surely,, surely, it is folly that we should lavish our energies and render our hearts unto that which makes for itself wings and passes away. Business, providing for a family, the acquisition of some more or less modest competency, these• are the things that necessarily demand a great deal of your attention and interest. You may so use them as that, whilst they are the nearer aims, the remoter aims of growing like your Master and fit for the inheritance may be reached through them all, and then they are blessed. Or you may so use them as that you build up of your earthly duties a thick, opaque barrier between you and your eternal wealth. In the one case you are wise, in the other case your epitaph will be "Thou fool!"

Do any of you remember the homely words in which a poet has put the lesson for us: "What good came of it at last ?" asks the little child, when the old man is telling him of the great victory. "What good came of it at last ?"• That is the question that shivers into insignificance, and convicts of something not much different from insanity,. much of all our lives, and the whole of some of our lives. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown,"—two pennyworth of parsley twisted into a wreath that will be brown to-morrow morning. It is a symbol of what some of you are living for.

II.—Now, in the next place, take the other side of that contrast, and consider the Christian's wisdom in his aim.

"But we an incorruptible," says Paul. Of course, the crown that is spoken about here is not the kingly crown, but the garland of the victorious athlete. It is interesting to notice the various instances of the employment of this figure in the New Testament, and the various aspects of the future blessedness which are represented by it.

For example, the same Apostle tells us, in almost the last words of his which have been left to us :—•'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.." That there he is thinking of the crown of the victorious wrestler, coming wearied and yet conqueror out of the arena, is clear from the previous words, " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course ;" where both the pugilistic contest and the race are applied as emblems of Paul's career. Then again we read in the Epistle of James :—" Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised." Then again we read in one of Peter's letters, that the elders who do their work faithfully and manfully shall receive at last from the Chief Shepherd "a crown of glory which fadeth not away." And then we read in John's Revelation, in the message to the persecuted Church at Smyrna, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

Possibly there may be a reference to the kingly crown in this promise from the Apocalypse, as royal dignities are very prominent in the promises of that book, and those who wear the crowns are, in another of its visions, seated on thrones. If so, there will be a threefold allusion in the emblem. It will stand for a symbol of dominion, of victory, and of festivity. It is the crown of the king, or the wreath of the victor, or the garlands on the temples of the guests at the feast. It is a crown of life that is, it consists of life. The true life of the spirit which partakes of the perfect glorified immortal life of Jesus is the crown. It is a crown consisting of glory. The radiant lustre of a manifestly God-glorified spirit is the crown. The garland that encircles the calm brows of those who sit at the feast is no mere external adornment, but the lustre of a perfect character which is the outcome of a Christ-given life. It is the crown of righteousness, that is to say, the crown which is, and can be given only to righteousness. Only pure brows can wear it. It would burn like a circlet of fire if it were placed on other heads. Righteousness is the condition of obtaining it. The condition is further expressed in other forms in the other passages quoted, according to which, those " who love His appearing," or those who "endure temptation" and "love Him," or those who do the task of their calling in the Church, or those who are "faithful unto death," receive the crown, that is to say—the fundamental condition is love to Christ, that love which is the effect of faith and leads to loving His appearing, and the subsidiary conditions which follow on that love are faithful endurance, patient service, and strenuous effort in the Christian cause. They who possess these graces shall at the last receive, as the prophet nas it, "a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." And these, thus attired and anointed and crowned for the banquet, are led in to sit for ever at the marriage-supper of the Lamb.

This, then, brethren, is the aim which the Apostle would propose, and which he more than proposes, which he asserts to be as a matter of fact, the aim of every person that has the right to call himself a Christian. Now, there is a sharp test for you. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we "What is to be filled in? We

*' do the same thing" to obtain an incorruptible crown. Is that your aim, Christian people? Do you live to win the laurel wreath of the victor, and that your brows may be twined with the garland of the feast? Have you triumphed over the nearer and lower objects, and are you living for the remoter and the nobler? If you are not, what business have you to call yourself a Christian? Men are classified by their aims in life. This is the description of Christ's followers: "We do it to obtain an incorruptible." Does that far-off wreath, extended from the hand •of the Judge Who sits at the winning-post, draw your eyes? Does it mold your life? Do you shape your conduct in such a fashion as to secure it? Does it gleam before you with a brightness that makes all other and nearer objects insignificant and pale? Put the questions to yourselves. If you can answer them in the affirmative you are a happy man.

And more than that, if you can thus answer, if it is true about you that you do own this as your formative motive— "" to obtain an incorruptible,"—then all these nearer object, will become even more blessed, and your whole life nobler than it otherwise would be.

The green of the lower slopes of the Alps never looks so vivid, their flowers never so lovely or so bright as when the eye rises from the grass to the snow, and from the flowers to the glaciers. And so all the lower reaches and levels of life look fairer, brighter, and the flowerets, that His providence sheds along across the grass like a smiles look the brighter and smell the sweeter because our eyes pass beyond them, and fix on the great white Throne that towers above them all. If you want life to be blessed and •noble, subordinate the present to the future, the material to the spiritual, all the corruptible crowns to the crown incorruptible. For the remoter our object the nobler our lives.

III.—And now again, passing by much that I wanted to say about this matter, let us turn to the other side of the double contrast that is here. Look at the world's noble •wisdom in the choice of its means.

This poor racer, of whom my text speaks, had ten months of hard abstinence and exercise before there was even a chance for him to succeed in the conflict. And then there was a short spurt of tremendous effort and expenditure of energy before he came in at the goal. These things, both of them, self-denial habitually, and spurts of energy up to the very edge of physical endurance—are conditions of success in the world, and they are both of them noble and beautiful. No matter for what the man is doing it, however low may be the aim, the act of self denial and the fact of effort are always better than the rust of self-indulgence and of languid indolence. It ia better for him to be braced into self-control, and stirred into energetic activity, than to be rotting like a fat weed in the pestilential marshes of self-indulgence, and losing all pith and manhood in the languid dissolution of indolence.

And so, following out the Apostle's lead here, one cannot but look with admiration, and with a recognition of the beauty and the nobleness of the spectacle, at a great deal of the toil and effort that the world puts forth, even for its own shabby ends. Why, a man will spend twenty times as long in making himself a good conjurer, who can balance feathers and twirl plates upon a table, as some of us ever spent in trying to make ourselves good Christians. The hard toil that all these people who contribute to the public amusement go through in order to secure eminence in their profession, ought to bring the blush of shame to the cheek of a great many of us. The world teaches us a lesson, as Paul set the lesson of these Corinthian races before Corinthian Christians. Think of the months of abstinence that any athlete, or horse-jockey, or pedestrian will go through here in England, and set by the side of that the sort of easy, languid, half-and-half pursuit of their great aim which characterizes, alas! such a melancholy number of people that profess and call themselves Christians.

IV.—That brings me to the last side of the contrast here; and that is the folly of so many professing Christians in their way of pursuing their aims.

A languid runner had no chance, and he knew it. The phrase was almost a contradiction in terms. A racer that would not go into training would lose his breath in the first five minutes, and might as well drop out of the race. What about a languid Christian? Is that a more consistent idea? What about a man that sets out on the Divine life, and exercises no self-restraint or discipline over himself? Will he get on any better? If I let my desire and affections go flowing vagrantly over the whole low plain of material things they will be like a river that is lost in the swamp; there will not be force enough left in the channel to make a scour and to run, and the stream will never get to the ocean. If I set out on the race without having girt up my loins by honest, resolute self restraint, self-denial, and self-crucifixion when need be, what can I expect but that before I have run half-a-dozen yards my ungirt robes will trip me up or get caught in the thorns and keep me back? My brother! No Christian progress is possible to-day, or ever was, or ever will be except on the old-fashioned conditions :—" Take up your cross, and deny yourself, and then come after Me." Learn from the world this lesson, that if a man wants to

succeed in any course He must shut out other, even legitimate ones. And do you put the lesson in practice in reference to your Christian life.

And then further, the runner that did not put all his powers into the five minutes of his race had no chance of coming in at the goal. And there is no different law in regard to Christian people. Up to the very edge of the capacity must be the effort. A languid Christian who does not strive with all his powers to live soberly, righteously, godly, and that with increasing completeness, will never make anything worth the making of his Christian career. It will be as in the old story,—the golden apple flung down before the racer will slacken his footsteps, and he will fall behind in the race. You must put all your strength into the work if you mean to run the race that is set before you, and to come at last to the goal.

God be thanked! We are crowned not because we are good but because Christ died. But the teaching of my text, that a Christian man must labour to win the prize, is by no means contradictory to, but complementary and confirmatory of the earlier truth, that a Christian man is crowned, as he is accepted, "not for works of righteousness which he hath done," but out of God's infinite mercy in Jesus Christ. Do not you pervert, as some are tempted to do, the great truth, that we are saved by Christ's death, .and that Heaven is all a free gift from God, into the great falsehood that an idle Christian can excuse himself for his indolence by pleading his "faith," or can be crowned, "unless he strive according to the laws" of the arena; of which the first is this:

—" Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved "; and the second is

—" Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

 



Living Proverbs 3:6

by Tommy Zimmer | “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”

In Proverbs 3:6, God is telling us to submit to him and follow his words. Proverbs, itself, is a collection of biblical wisdom designed to address moral behavior, correct conduct, the purpose of one's life and values. Within this verse from Proverbs, God reminds us of his plan for us. Humans are often subject to doubts and question what their purpose is. The whole purpose of the book is to give solace to the uncertainty of what life can throw at you. Life is never simple.

 

Looking at everything many people have going including a job, a family, friends, and education, it can be a lot to take on. A person can become very tired from having to juggle all the responsibilities of life. Coming to terms with what exactly you have may not be the easiest thing for you to do. Having many responsibilities can cause a lot of anxiety. Listening to God's words and everything he is telling you might be some way for you to gain solace.

 

When God tells you everything is going to be alright, this can be the key for you to come to terms with what is going on. God is aware of everything around you and what is going on. He is not fearful of anything. He's the ultimate psychologist or therapist. For example, he will understand if you have a drug addiction and need help. He can counsel you through all these challenges and responsibilities. He may be the best person to confide in when dealing with emotional unrest.

 

God is not afraid of anything. He is an all powerful being who is confident in everything he is does. He knows human nature and how we might sin. We make mistakes but knowing that he has been through the same events as we have been can give comfort to our troubles. God, Himself, sent his only son, in order to be able to experience the pains and temptations of being human. God lived the human experience through his son.

 

God can help you to see that everything is going to be okay. If many people fall victim to drug addiction, God will forgive them for what happened. That is what trusting him is all about. Maintaining confidence in God will pay dividends for you as your life continues on.

 

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery and the entertainment industry.

.

 



Christ in the Heart

by Salem Communications | "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man."—Eph. iii, 16.

In no part of Paul's letters does lie rise to a higher level than in his prayers, and none of his prayers are fuller of fervour than this wonderful series of petitions. They open out one into the other like some majestic suite of apartments in a great palace-temple, each leading into a loftier and more spacious hall, each drawing nearer the presence-chamber, until at last we stand there.

Roughly speaking, the prayer is divided into four petitions, of which each is the cause of the following and the result of the preceding :—" That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man." That is the first. "In order that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith," "ye being rooted and grounded in love"—such is the second, the result of the first, and the preparation for the third. "That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints . . . and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." Such is the next, and all lead up at last to that wonderful desire beyond which nothing is possible— "that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

I venture to contemplate dealing with these four petitions in successive sermsns, in order, God helping me, that I may bring before you a fairer vision of the possibilities of your Christian life than you ordinarily entertain. For Paul's prayer is God's purpose, and what He means with all who profess His name is that these exuberant desires may be fulfilled in them. So let us now listen to that petition which is the foundation of all, and consider that great thought of the Divine strength-giving power which may be bestowed upon every Christian soul.

I.—First, then, I remark that God means, and wishes, that all Christians should be strong by the possession of the spirit of might.

It is a miserably inadequate conception of Christianity, and of the gifts which it bestows, and the blessings which it intends for men, when it is limited, as it practically is, by a large number—I might almost say the majority—of professing Christians to a simple means of alte ing their relation to the past, and to the broken law of God and of righteousness. Thanks be to His name! His great gift to the world begins in each individual case with the assurance that all the past is cancelled. He gives that blessed sense of forgiveness, which can never be too highly estimated unless it is forced out of its true place as the introduction, and made to be the climax and the end of His gifts. I do not know what Christianity means, unless it means that you and I are forgiven for a purpose ; that the purpose, if I may so say, is something in advance of the means towards the purpose, the purpose being that we should be filled with all the strength and righteousness and supernatural life granted to us by the Spirit of God.

It is well that we should enter into the vestibule. There is no other path to the Throne but through the vestibule. But do not let us forget that the good news of forgiveness, though we need it day by day, and perpetually repeated, is but the introduction to, and porch of the Temple, and that beyond it there towers, if I cannot say a loftier, yet I may say a further gift, even the gift of a Divine life like His, from Whom it comes, and of which it is in reality an effluence and a spark. The true characteristic blessing of the Gospel is the gift of a new power to a sinful weak world ; a power which makes the feeble strong, and the strongest as an angel of God.

Oh, brethren! we who know how, "if any power we have, it is to ill;" we who understand the weakness, the unaptness of our spirits to any good, and our strength for every vagrant evil that comes upon them to tempt them, should surely recognise as a Gospel in very deed that which proclaims to us that the "everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth," Who Himself "fainteth not, neither is weary," hath yet a loftier display of His strength-giving power than that which is visible in the heavens above, where, "because He is strong in might not one faileth." That heaven, the region of calm completeness, of law unbroken and therefore of power undiminished, affords a lesser and dimmer manifestation of His strength than the work that is done in the hell of a human heart that has wandered and is brought back, that is stricken with the weakness of the fever of sin, and is healed into the strength of obedience and the omnipotence of dependence. It is much to say "for that He is strong in might, not one of these faileth.' It is more to say "He giveth power to them that have failed; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength." The Gospel is the gift of pardon for holiness, and its inmost and most characteristic bestowment is the bestowment of a new power for obedience and service.

And that power, as I need not remind you, is given to us through the gift of the Divine Spirit. The very name of that Spirit is the "Spirit of Might." Christ spoke to us about being "endued with power from on high." The last of His promises that dropped from His lips upon earth was the promise that His followers should receive the power of the Spirit coming upon them. Wheresoever in the early histories we read of a man that was full of the Holy Ghost, we read that he was "full of power." According to the teaching of this Apostle. God hath given us the " spirit of power," which is also the spirit "of love and of a sound mind." So the strength that we must have, if we have strength at all, is the strength of a Divine Spirit, not our own, that dwells in us, and works through us.

And there is nothing in that which need startle or surprise any man who believes in a living God at all, and in the possibility, therefore, of a connection between the Great Spirit, and all the human spirits which are His children. I would maintain, in opposition to many modern conceptions, the actual supernatural character of the gift that is bestowed upon every Christian soul. My reading of the New Testament is that as distinctly above the order of material nature as is any miracle, is the gift that flows into a believing heart. There is a direct passage between God and my spirit. It lies open to His touch ; all the paths of its deep things can be trodden by Him. You and I act upon one another from without, He acts upon •us within. We wish one another blessings ; He gives the blessings. We try to train, to educate, to incline, and dispose, by the presentation of motives and the urging of reasons ; He can plant in a heart by His own Divine husbandry the seed that shall blossom into immortal life. And so the Christian Church is a great, continuous, supernatural community in the midst of the material world; and every believing soul, because it possesses something of the life of Jesus Christ, has been the seat of a miracle as real and true as when He said "Lazarus, come forth I" Precisely this teaching does our Lord Himself present for our acceptance when He sets side by side, as mutually illustrative, as belonging to the same order of supernatural phenomena, "the hour is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live," which is the supernatural resurrection of souls dead in sin,—and "the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth," which is the future resurrection of the body, in obedience to His will.

So, Christian men, and women, do you set clearly before you this : that God's purpose with you is but begun when He has forgiven you, that He forgives you for a design, that it is a means to an end, and that you have not reached the conception of the large things which He intends for you unless you have risen to this great thought — He means and wishes that you should be strong with the strength of His own Divine Spirit.

II.—Now notice, next, that this Divine Power has its seat in, and is intended to influence the whole of the inner life.

As my text puts it, we may be strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man. By the "inner man" I suppose, is not meant the new creation through faith in Jesus Christ which this Apostle calls "the new man," but simply what Peter calls the "hidden man of the heart," the "soul," or unseen self as distinguished from the visible material body which it animates and informs. It is this inner self, then, in which the Spirit of God is to dwell, and into which it is to breathe strength. The leaven is hid deep in three measures of meal until the whole be le•avened. And the point to mark is that the whole inward region which makes up the true man is the field upon which this Divine Spirit is to work. It is not a bit of your inward life that is to be hallowed. It is not any one aspect of it that is to be strengthened, but it is the whole intellect, affections, desires, tastes, powers of attention, conscience, imagination, memory, will. The whole inner man in all its corners is to be filled, and to come under the influence of this power, "until there be no part dark, as when the bright shining of a candle giveth thee light."

There is no part of my being that is not patent to the tread of this Divine Guest. There are no rooms of the house of my spirit, into which He may not go. Let Him come with the master key in His hand into all the dim chambers of your feeble nature; and as the one life is light in the eye, and colour in the cheek, and deftness in the fingers, and strength in the arm, and pulsation in the heart, so He will come with the manifold results of the one gift to you. He will strength en your understandings, and make you able for loftier tasks of intellect and of reason, than you can face in your unaided power; He will dwell in your affections and make them vigorous to lay hold upon the holy things that are above their natural inclination, and will make it certain that their reach shall not be beyond their grasp, as, alas I it so often is in the sadness, and disappointments of human love. He will come into that feeble, vacillating, wayward will of yours, that is only obstinate in its adherence to the low and the evil, as some foul creature, that one may try to wrench away, digs its claws into corruption and holds on by that. He will lift your will and make it fix upon the good and abominate the evil, and through the whole being He will pour a great tide of strength which shall cover all the weakness. He will be like some subtle elixir which, taken into the lips, steals through a pallid and wasted frame, and brings back a glow to the cheek and a lustre to the eye, and swiftness to the brain, and power to the

whole nature. Or as some plant, drooping and flagging beneath the hot rays of the sun, when it has the scent of water given to it, will, in all its parts, stiffen and erect itself, so when the Spirit is poured out on men, their whole nature is invigorated and helped.

That indwelling Spirit will be a power for suffering. The parallel passage to this in the twin Epistle to the Colossians is—" strengthened with all might unto all patience and long-suffering with gentleness." Ah ! brethren, unless this Divine Spirit were a power for patience and endurance it were no power suited to us poor men. So dark at times is every life ; so full at times of discouragements, of dreariness, of sadness, of loneliness, of bitter memories, and of fading hopes does the human heart become, that if we are to be strong we must have a strength that will manifest itself most chiefly in this, that it teaches us how to bear, how to weep, how to submit.

And it will be a power for conflict. We have all of us, in the discharge of duty and the meeting of temptation, to face such tremendous antagonisms that unless we have grace given to us which will enable us to resist, we shall be overcome and swept away. God's power from the Divine Spirit within us, does not absolve us from the fight but it fits us for the fight. It is not given in order that holiness may be won without a struggle, as some people seem to think, but it is given to us in order that in the struggle for holiness we may never lose "one jot of heart or hope," but may be " able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand."

It is a power for service. "Tarry ye in Jerusalem till ye be endued with power from on high." There is no Buch force for the spreading of Christ's Kingdom, and the witness-bearing work of His Church as the possession of this Divine Spirit. Plunged into that fiery baptism, the selfishness and the sloth, which stand in the way of so many of us, are all consumed and annihilated, and we are set free for service because the bonds that bound us are burnt up in the merciful furnace of His fiery po\ver.

"Ye shall be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man "—a power that will fill and flood all your nature if you will let it, and will make you strong to suffer, strong to combat, strong to serve, and to witness for your Lord.

III.—And now, lastly, let me point you still further to the measure of this power. It is limitless with the boundlessness of God Himself. "That he would grant you," is the daring petition of the Apostle, " according to the rich.ee of His glory to be strengthened."

There is the measure. There is no limit except the uncounted wealth of His own self-manifestation, the flashing light of revealed Divinity. Whatsoever there is of splendour in that, whatsoever there is of power there, ic these and in nothing on this side of them, lies the limit of the possibilities of a Christian life. Of course there is a working limit at each moment, and that is our capacity to receive; but that capacity varies, may vary indefinitely, may become greater and greater beyond our count or measurement. Our hearts may be more and more capable of God ; and in the measure of which they are capable of Him they shall be filled by Him. A limit which is always shifting is no limit at all. A kingdom, the boundaries of which are not the same from one year to another, by reason of its own inherent expansive power, may be said. to have no fixed limit. And so we appropriate and enclose, as it were, within our own little fence a tiny portion of the great prairie that rolls boundlessly to the horizon. But to-morrow we may enclose more, if we will, and more and more ; and so ever onwards, for all that is God's is ours, and He has given us His whole self to use and to possess through our faith in His Son. A thimble can only take up a thimbleful of the ocean, but what if the thimble be endowed with a power of expansion which has no term known to men? May it not, then, be that some time or other it shall be able to hold so much of the infinite depth as now seems a dream too audacious to be realised?

So it is with us and God. He lets us come into the vaults, as it were, where in piles and masses the ingots of uncoined and uncounted gold are stored and stacked; and He says, "Take as much as you like to carry." There is no limit except the riches of His glory.

And now, dear friends, remember that this great gift, offered to each of us, is offered on conditions. To you professing Christians especially I speak. You will never get it unless you want it, and some of you do not want it. There are plenty of people in this chapel at this moment who call themselves Christian men, that would not for the life of them know what to do with this great gift if they had it. You will get it if you desire it. "Ye have not because ye ask not."

Oh ! when one contrasts the largeness of God's promises and the miserable contradiction to them which the average Christian life of this generation presents, what can we say? "Hath His mercy clean gone for ever? Doth His promise fail for evermore?" Ye weak Christian people, born •weakling and weak ever since, as so many of you are, open your mouths wide. Rise to the height of the expectations and the desires which it is our sin not to cherish ; and be sure of this, as we ask so shall we receive. "Ye are not straitened in God." Alas! alas!" ye are straitened in yourselves."

And mind, there must be self-suppression if there is to be the triumph of a Divine power in you. You cannot fight with both classes of weapons. The human must die if the Divine is to live. The life of nature, dependence on self, must be weakened and subdued if the life of God is to overcome and to fill yon. You must be able to say "Not 11 "or you will never be able to say "Christ liveth in me." The patriarch that overcame halted on his thigh; and all the life of nature was lamed and made impotent that the life of grace might prevail. So crush self by the power and for the sake of the Christ, if you would that the Spirit should bear rule over you.

See to it, too, that you use what you have of that Divine Spirit. "To him that hath shall be given." What is the use of more water being sent down the mill lade, if the water that does come to it all runs away at the bottom, and none of it goes over the wheel? Use the power you have, and power will come to the faithful steward of what he possesses. He that is faithful in a little shall get much to be faithful over. Ask and use, and the ancient thanksgiving may still come from our lips. "In the day when I cried, Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul."

 



The Doctrine Of Prayer: The Lord Who Cares

FIRST EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA) CHURCH
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 4021
(502) 375-1904
www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com
THEME: THE DOCTRINE OF PRAYER
TOPIC: THE LORD WHO CARES
TEXT: First Peter 5: 1-9
Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

The word, “The Doctrine Of Prayer” was written by the man T. W. Hunt in the year 1986.  In reference to Robert R. McLaughlin, it could be explained or emphasized thus;  

An important point to note first is that we are not to use prayer to try and get God to do what we want done.  Many believers try and use prayer to get their own way, not God's way.  Prayer must be compatible with God's will and God's way. Sometimes that may be our will and our way, but other times it may not.

"And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (1 John 5: 14-15).

Prayer is not designed to get us out of trouble, but rather to express our helplessness, our humility, our total dependence on God, and our recognition of His grace and His mercy toward us.  Prayer is not what we want for ourselves, but what God wants for us.  In fact, prayer is an expression and an extension of Bible doctrine resident in the soul.

We fail in prayer because we fail to understand and utilize Bible doctrine correctly. The Scripture says,

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you" (John 15: 7).

Prayer was never designed to fulfill our lusts and desires; prayer is designed to fulfill the will, plan, and purpose of God for our lives (Robert R. McLaughlin).

 

According to the Scripture, prayer must be built on the foundation of the sovereignty and the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.  That is, Prayer is as old as a man; it permeates all of history and is common to all people.  In order words, prayer is a universal in time, in space, and in the scope of its content.   The Bible narrated the story of the man Hezekiah, the man Paul, the man Samuel, the man Josiah, the woman Miriam, and the woman Anna in many ways.  The above named people were made in the likeness of God and they had great unity and fellowship with God.  The Scripture narrated it in various ways and it could be explained thus;    

  1. Prayer Is Universal
  1. Genesis 4: 25-26 (NKJV).
  2. 1 Kings 18: 17-26 (NKJV).
  3. Acts 2: 14-21 (NKJV).

             A New Son

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”  26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. [a] Then men began to call on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:25-26 (NKJV).
 

17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah that Ahab said to him “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.  19 Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah,[a] who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

Elijah’s Mount Carmel Victory

20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel.  21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.  22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.  23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it.  24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”

25 Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”

26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made (1 Kings 18:17-26 (NKJV).

Peter’s Sermon

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.  18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants.
I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.

19 I will show wonders in heaven above, And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.  20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass.  That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved (Acts 2:14-21(NKJV).

Brethren, in the above narrated messages we just viewed, what is your ultimate relationship with God and how honestly and faithfully do you wait and depend on Him?  Be assured that our Almighty God is beside you no-matter your sorrow, discouragement, or sadness.  Depend on Him and honestly trust in Him the more and victory will be yours in our Redeemer’s name.
 

  1. The Prayer Life Of Jesus Christ    
  1. Mark 1: 32-39 (NKJV)
  2. Matthew 14: 22-23 (NKJV)

The occasions for the prayer life of our Lord Jesus Christ are many.  That is, He prayed in the early morning and at night.  That is, He often prayed alone.  This could be seen in the Gospel of John Chapter 6: 15 – 21 and in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 11: 25 – 30. The above narrated phrase that is, “The Prayer Life Of Jesus Christ” could be viewed or narrated in this way;

Many Healed After Sabbath Sunset

32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.  33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door.  34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

 

Preaching in Galilee

35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.  36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him.  37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons (Mark 1:32-39 (NKJV).

Jesus Walks on the Sea

22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
(Matthew 14:22-23 (NKJV).

CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, be assured that the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ is very, very, important.  That is, He faithfully, prayerfully, honestly, and obediently prayed in the morning.  Also, He diligently chose His   disciples after praying all night.  And, when He prayed in the City of Gethsemane, He expressed unwillingness to die on the Cross of Calvary.  Be aware that the final recorded words of our Lord Jesus Christ before His death was a word of prayer. 
       Brethren, how do you face your problems in times of difficulty, in times of sadness, in times of sorrow, and in times of calamity?  Understand that the Lord is on your side no-matter your situations, problems, or panics.  When you face all of these calamities and problems, tell the Almighty God that He is there for you, then, you we win the battle and victory will be yours in Jesus’ name!  Again, no matter your problems, sadness, tribulations, issues, or difficulties, trust more and depend more on Him and you will gain and win the battle in Jesus name.  Amen!    



Five Errors to Drop from Your Christmas Sermon

If you want to help people see Christmas with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.(Abraham Bloemaert / Wikimedia Commons.The adoration of the Magi)

Pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers: Have you thought about your Christmas sermon or lesson yet? If you want to help people celebrate Christmas this year (and every year) in keeping with established facts—not later legends, traditions, or popular imaginations—start by avoiding these common mistakes.

1. Don’t add details that aren’t in the text.

This might seem obvious but bears repeating because it happens so often. The massive annual proliferation of Christmas cards, nativity scenes, and TV specials perpetuates these added details and gives the impression that they are facts.

The infancy narratives in the Gospels lack many of the details that have been fabricated in subsequent centuries. For example, they don’t tell us about the nature of the stable (cave, open-air, wood, etc.); whether there even was a stable; whether or not there were animals nearby; or the number of wise men. These magoi (not kings and not necessarily three in number) almost certainly didn’t arrive on the night of the birth as most manger scenes depict. And a star wouldn’t have been suspended right above the roofline. With no mention of a stable, the manger could have been in the open air, in an animal pen near the house, in a small cave, or in the area of a house used for animals.

The texts don’t mention Mary and/or Joseph riding on a donkey. It is equally plausible—if not more so—that they walked the entire way from Nazareth to Bethlehem (70–80 miles; at least 3 days of steady walking). The idea of Mary riding a donkey stems from a second-century apocryphal work (Protoevangelium of James, chap. 17). Actually, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for a pregnant teenager in antiquity with an active lifestyle to walk such a journey.

Despite what we see in some Christmas pageants, there is no mention of an innkeeper (whether mean and coldhearted or regretful for the lack of space available); Luke simply mentions that there was no room in the kataluma (Luke 2:7). The kataluma was not a formal professional inn with an innkeeper but could point to either a public covered shelter (as in the Greek translation of Ex. 4:24) or to the guest room in a personal home (as in Luke 22:11).

It is important for us to stick with established facts when preaching and teaching. There is, of course, nothing wrong with the use of historical imagination. But it is important to maintain a clear distinction between what we actually know happened and imaginative reconstructions of how events might have taken place. Christianity is rooted in historical fact. This is as true for Jesus’ birth as it is true for the crucifixion and resurrection.

2. Don’t supply spiritual explanations for cultural practices to make them sound biblical.

We love to find—or even invent—spiritual reasons for various cultural practices related to Christmas. For example, we give gifts to one other to remind ourselves of God’s great gift of Jesus to the world or of the gifts of the wise men to Jesus. That may sound nice, but is it biblical? Or do we really give gifts because that’s what our parents did and what everyone else we know does (except the Jehovah’s Witnesses, diehard secularists, and some religious purists)? What kind of parent would you be if you didn’t give your child a Christmas present (or, in many cases, a whole roomful of them)? Or, just imagine, if you didn’t celebrate Christmas at all (like the Puritans)? Very little is intrinsically spiritual or biblical about these kinds of expectations. They’re almost entirely cultural. That doesn’t make them necessarily wrong, but we shouldn’t invent biblical rationales to justify them.

Examples abound. What does the decoration of an evergreen tree have to do with Jesus’ coming to earth to rescue God’s creation? We may tell ourselves it’s a symbol of everlasting life because it’s evergreen but is that really the reason to set up a Christmas tree each year? Similarly, we may point to candles as a symbol of Jesus being the light of the world, holly as a symbol of the crown of thorns that was placed upon Jesus’ head, the color red as a symbol of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross, the yule log as a symbol of the cross, mistletoe as a symbol of reconciliation, and bells as a symbol for ringing out the good news. Even if some of these associations and symbols are ancient, they don’t explain why we should necessarily incorporate them in our Christmas celebrations today. If we’re honest, we have to admit that we celebrate Christmas the way we do primarily because of our own cultural traditions, even though there’s little real connection between these traditions and the biblical accounts of Jesus’ actual coming to this earth as a baby.

The danger of infusing spiritual rationales into cultural practices is also seen in some of the Christmas songs we sing at church during the month of December. The most flagrant violation might be “O Christmas Tree.” You have to search hard through the stanzas of this hymn to find anything related to Jesus. We should be uncomfortable singing this carol in a gathered group of Christians because it’s basically a song paying homage to a tree. Just because the song has been culturally or traditionally associated with Christmas doesn’t mean we should incorporate it into our Christian Christmas celebrations.

The main danger here is that we present cultural practices as if they carry biblical weight or authority. Obscuring the line between cultural practice and biblical teaching is not only unhelpful and confusing, but also potentially harmful to our faith. When we no longer distinguish what’s biblical from what’s cultural, we run the risk of accepting and propagating syncretistic, hodgepodge ideas that have no biblical basis. Our faith is no longer based in truth but, at least in part, on myths and legends.

There is no need, of course, to abandon all these cultural practices in our family celebrations. We should simply maintain and communicate a clear distinction between the aspects of our Christmas celebration that are inherited from the culture and those that are clearly grounded in Scripture.

3. Don’t be embarrassed by the Jewishness of passages related to Jesus’ coming.

The first chapter of Luke includes two lengthy hymns that have traditionally been called the Magnificat (Mary’s song in Luke 1:46–56) and the Benedictus (Zechariah’s song in Luke 1:67–79). The titles come from the first word of these hymns in Latin. These passages—or at least parts of them—are at times neglected because they are rather lengthy and express Jewish hopes in God’s salvation without a clear indication of what that salvation would look like. This deliverance, as we know it in retrospect, comes in the form of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the expansion of the gospel beyond Israel to the Gentiles, and Jesus’ return at the end of time.

The Magnificat celebrates how God, through Mary’s child, will restore and help Israel while opposing her enemies and oppressors. The Benedictus describes John the Baptist’s role in relation to Jesus, the main figure in the fulfillment of God’s plan to restore Israel. The hymn praises God’s actions of visiting and redeeming his people by raising up the Davidic Messiah to deliver his people, all in fulfillment of his promises to Abraham and to his people through the Old Testament prophets. This deliverance will enable God’s people to serve God without fear and in righteousness forever.

Perhaps these hymns are at times neglected in our Christmas sermons because they’re not “Christian” enough. This neglect, however, comes at a serious loss. Both hymns describe the salvation that will result from Jesus’ coming to earth. During his first coming, he decisively dealt with his people’s sin, thus fulfilling passages such as Micah 7:18–20. We’re still waiting for his second coming, when he will set things right in every way—politically, economically, socially, and spiritually—once and for all. We are still waiting for the full and final fulfillment of the declarations made in the Magnificat and Benedictus. Both hymns are also powerful examples of how to praise God by focusing both on his attributes—his power, holiness, and mercy—and his actions in fulfilling his ancient promises to his people in and through the birth of Jesus the Messiah.

The Christian faith is rooted inextricably and inexorably in the Jewish faith. This is why even Luke, a Gentile, presents Jesus’ coming in terms of Old Testament fulfillment (Luke 1:1). Like Matthew, who wrote his Gospel primarily to Jews, Luke presents Jesus’ coming in a thoroughly Jewish cast. If we fail to see our Christian faith rooted in God’s dealings with his people Israel long ago, it will likely remain shallow and leave us with a truncated gospel and canon, not to mention an inadequate understanding of who Jesus is and why he came.

4. Don’t be swayed by dubious challenges to the biblical witness to Jesus’ birth.

Both birth narratives in Scripture are replete with manifestations of supernatural events surrounding the Virgin Birth: angelic appearances, dreams, visions, prophecies made regarding Jesus, Elizabeth conceiving past the age of childbearing, Zechariah losing his speech, the circumstances surrounding the naming of both John and Jesus, the relationship between the two births, and so on. Matthew, for example, goes out of his way to make clear that Mary was Jesus’ mother, but that Joseph was not his real father. After a long string of references to men “fathering” a son, Matthew concludes his genealogy with reference to “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16, italics added), indicating that Joseph was not Jesus’ real father. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb.

So let’s not be intimidated by critical objections to the Virgin Birth or other supernatural aspects of the Christmas story. When you read about authors such as Reza Aslan claiming that stories about Jesus’ birth and childhood are “conspicuously absent” from the earliest New Testament writings—such as Paul’s letters and Mark’s Gospel—and that the early Christians filled in the gaps to align Jesus’s life with various Old Testament prophecies, including those related to his birth, don’t be alarmed. According to Aslan, the early Christians concocted the myth of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem in order “to get Jesus’s parents to Bethlehem so he could be born in the same city as David.” Others, such as Andrew Lincoln, deny the historicity of the Virgin Birth on similar grounds. We can’t respond in detail here, though we’ve done so elsewhere. In short, these kinds of arguments reflect misguided attempts to drain the biblical birth narratives of their transcendent elements by using critical reasoning in order to reinterpret supernatural occurrences and to rewrite the narratives in purely naturalistic terms.

On the one hand, as already mentioned, let’s be careful ourselves not to add extraneous details—though driven by tradition, not critical reasoning. Let’s be adamant in defending the reliability of the biblical witness to the supernatural nature of Jesus’ birth, which was unlike any other in human history. The Bible is unequivocal, and careful historical research certainly allows for the fact that it took a miracle—in fact, a whole string of miracles—to save us. That is nothing to be embarrassed or intimidated about.

5. Don’t get bogged down in trivia and miss the true significance of Jesus’ birth.

Scholars continue to debate questions such as the year of Jesus’s birth, and whether or not Jesus was born on December 25. They debate the historicity of Quirinius’s census, the year of Herod the Great’s death, the phenomena surrounding Jesus’ birth—the star of Bethlehem—and a host of related chronological and other issues. They also debate the possible pagan origins of Christmas, such as whether it provided a functional substitute for the Roman Saturnalia, and, as mentioned, the emergence of various other traditions associated with our celebration of Christmas. All of these are interesting questions worth exploring, but don’t dwell unduly on such peripheral issues. Instead, focus on the central message of Jesus’ first coming, on the biblical story of the Incarnation.

Who was Jesus, and why did he come? John’s Gospel roots Jesus’ origins in eternity past, as the Word who was in the beginning with God and was himself the agent of creation. According to John, in Jesus, God visited the world he had made, but his own did not receive him (1:11). How tragic! How inexcusable! That Word, John tells us, became flesh in Jesus, or, as John puts it, “pitched his tent” among us (1:14). In his three and a half years of ministry, Jesus trained the twelve disciples and others to carry on his mission, to take the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth. Then, he died for us on the cross to pay for our sins and to reconcile us to God. Our broken relationship with God was mended. Those who trust in him enjoy deep spiritual fulfillment and continual connection with him already in the here and now and will do so for all eternity.

That’s worth celebrating, at Christmas and throughout the year, in joyful song and in a life dedicated to the glory of God in the highest of which the angels sang that starry night over two millennia ago.

Andreas Köstenberger is Senior Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Alex Stewart is Academic Dean and Assistant Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Badhoevedorp, The Netherlands. They co-authored The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation (Crossway, 2015).

 



The Missionary Call

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904
www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

TOPIC: THE MISSIONARY CALL
TEXT: ROMANS 1: 1-17

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

In reference to the man Bruce Dipple, the phrase, The Missionary call, Theological, or Mythological, could be explained in this way:

Is it evangelical jargon? Is it a key aspect of mission? Is it an out of date phrase?  Is it just one of those things we say without thinking?  The missionary call is a phrase that rolls off the tongue so easily when discussing missions, but we don’t often stop and reflect on it from a biblical perspective.

The Scripture continues by saying;

Those involved in mission, however, are being forced to do some reflection on the use of the term, as it is becoming an excuse for not being involved in mission.  “I don’t have to think about global mission because I haven’t received a missionary call,” is an increasingly common position being adopted by Christians.  The term also has the tendency to reinforce the highly individualistic nature of our society by putting the whole emphasis on the subjective experience of the individual.  This can occasionally lead to individuals ignoring very helpful advice, declaring “because God called me,” which frequently leads to someone being hurt in the long term.

  1. The Biblical Doctrine of Calling
    1. I Corinthians 1: 1-9
    2. Acts 9: 1-16

What does the word “The Biblical Doctrine of Calling” really stands for in the Scripture?  It could be viewed thus,  

“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.” 

Distinctions and Descriptions of Calling

1.  Primary calling to salvation in God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2: 9)

  2. Called to faith in Christ (Rom. 8: 28-30; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2: 10- 12)

  3. Called to the kingdom of God (1 Thess. 2: 10-12)

  4. Called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6: 12; Heb. 9: 15)

  5. Called to holy living (1 Cor. 1: 2; 1 Pet. 1: 15)

      The above narrated issues or points were said by Dr. Davey Naugle.

      The Scripture also continues by saying; 

Greetings

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Gifts at Corinth

4. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NKJV).
 

The Scripture again continues by saying,


The Damascus Road: Saul Converted

1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.  4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”  Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.[a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”  Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Ananias Baptizes Saul

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”  And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”  13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”  15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:1-16 (NKJV).
 

B.  Motivating Incentives

1.  Romans 5: 1-11
2.  1 John 4: 1-10

In reference to a woman by the name “Elizabeth Keating,” the word “Motivating Incentives” could be explained as, “How to get to know and bring out the best in your Field employees.”
She continues explaining it has it could be viewed below.  It says;  

Motivated employees are worth their weight in gold. Their hard work sets an example for their coworkers. Their work satisfaction and positive attitude make your company look good. And they need less supervision than less motivated workers.

She again continues by saying;

However, motivating and developing employees can be a delicate balancing act for even the most experienced contractor. Those who succeed use techniques that motivate employees in the long-term and start each worker's employment with a positive, career-focused orientation.

Brethren, be assured that the phrase “Motivation and Incentive” are important matters in each person’s daily life.  In other words, parents must work so hard to motivate their children to obey and spend their time adequately and profitably.  The Scripture emphasize it thus:

Faith Triumphs in Trouble

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


Christ in Our Place

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation (Romans 5:1-11(NKJV).

Brothers and Sisters, what a joy we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, for the above Scripture says;

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation (Romans 5:8-11(NKJV).

The Epistle of 1John 4: 1-10 also indicated it in this way;

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,  3 and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.  6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Knowing God Through Love

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:1-10(NKJV).


CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, how can the truth about a missionary call be obtained, gained, and be effective? The only way to obtain this is through the Scripture, the word of God.  Be assured that, the only major usage of the word “Call” in the Scripture is the call to “Salvation.”  The apostle Paul used the word “Call” as a comprehensive term to encompass all that pertains to our conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is, hearing the gospel, repentance, faith, and the immediate consequences of our new birth.  Brethren, be assured that the phrase “Motivation and Incentive” are important matters in each person’s daily life.  That is, each parent must work so hard to motivate their children to obey and spend their time adequately and profitably.

Again, in reference to the lady, “Elizabeth Keating,” the phrase “Motivation and Incentive” are important matters in each ones’ daily life.  Therefore, each person must work so hard in other to motivate their children so that they can be obedient to their missions call and spread their time adequately and faithfully.  How do you and I focus our call into the ministry that the glory of our Almighty God could be explained and narrated to the people in the neighborhood?  Be assured that doing these things faithfully, honestly, and importantly will give you and I the ability to know the Lord more and trust Him more.  Beloved, be obedient to the mission that is being entrusted into your hands and you will see the joy and faithfulness of the Almighty God in your life.  May the Almighty God bless and keep you the more in Jesus’ name.  Amen!



The Power Of Pentecost

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL
(ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 4021
(502) 375-1904
www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com
THEME: CHRIST’S INDICATIONS OF A GLOBAL PURPOSE IN MISSIONS
TOPIC: THE POWER OF PENTECOST
TEXT:  Matthew 16: 13-23

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

In reference to the man by the name John Josephus, the phrase, “The Power of Pentecost” could be explained or viewed in this way;

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.

The second chapter of the Book of Acts is recorded thus:

Coming of the Holy Spirit

1. When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place.  2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  3. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  4. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Crowd’s Response

5. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:1-5(NKJV).

 

In today’s sermon we will narrate the following topics:

  1. The Holy Spirit’s New Ministries

What does the word “The Holy Spirit’s New Ministries” mean in the Bible? This could be emphasized or explained in this way:

The World’s Hatred

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.  22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  23 He who hates Me hates My Father also.  24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.  25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’[a]

The Coming Rejection

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.  27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning (John 15:18-27(NKJV).

The Promise Of The coming Spirit

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, [a] ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.

29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.  30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.  31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here (John 14:27-31(NKJV).

Brethren, the above narrated message is the messages spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. That is, the message He discussed with His disciples. You can also view the rest from the following Epistles which are narrated thus;

 

1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.  2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.  3 And these things they will do to you[a] because they have not known the Father nor Me.  4 But these things I have told you, that when the[b] time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’  6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:1-11(NKJV), Matthew 24: 4-14 (NKJV).

Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ will give you and me the power and ability to rely, to trust, and to depend in Him the more.  But if we fail to rely, to trust, and to depend on our Lord Jesus Christ, it then means we are not been obedient to Him faithfully and honestly. Brethren, No-matter what might be your sorrow, your difficulty, your calamity, or sadness, do not worry but belief that He is on your side and victory will be yours in Jesus’ name. 

  1. The Unique Church at Antioch   

In reference to the Gospel of Acts, the Christian Community at Antioch began when Christians who were scattered from Jerusalem because of persecution fled to Antioch.  This people were joined together by Christians from Cyprus and Cyrene that is, those who migrated to Antioch.  It was in this city of Antioch that the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ were first referred to as Christians.  These groups of people were also called “Followers of the Way.”  It is fully explained in the Book of Acts thus:

Barnabas and Saul at Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.  20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.  21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.  23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.  26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26 (NKJV).

This could also be viewed in the Book of 1 Corinthians that says;

Unity and Diversity in One Body

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[a] one Spirit.  14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body (1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (NKJV).

Brethren, how often did you commit or devote yourself to the great mission that our Almighty God the Father, entrusted into your hands?  Or are you still saying I will do it latter because I have no time for that presently.  Be assured that committing yourself to the mission entrusted into your hand will give you and me the power, ability, and strength to minister to the people in the community faithfully, honestly, and obediently.

  1. The Unique Ministry of the Apostle Paul       

Why was the Apostle Paul very important and dedicated to the church? The man, Apostle Luke, narrated or recorded the story of his conversion in different ways.  For example, the Scripture says;

The Damascus Road: Saul Converted

1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest  2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.  4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Ananias Baptizes Saul

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake (Acts 9:1-16 (NKJV).  See also Acts 26: 16-18 (NKJV).

CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, how are you going to put today’s sermon you have heard into action?  When are you going to reach out into the community and faithfully, truly, honestly minister to those that are lost?  Bringing them to the church and meeting their needs no-matter their sorrows, problems, difficulties, and discouragements?  Be assured that the Almighty God will be on your side if you honestly and faithfully commit yourself to all these things.  Brethren, please devout yourself honestly to the mission that the Almighty God dedicated into your hands and you will see His glory and mercy.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ keep and uphold you the more in our Redeemer’s name. Amen!      



The Ministry of The Gentiles

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904
www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

THEME: A GLOBAL PURPOSE IN THE PREPARATION FOR THE MESSIAH
TOPIC: THE MINISTRY OF THE GENTILES
TEXT:  JOHN 2: 13 -25

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

In reference to the man by the name Wayne Blank, the Gentiles could be explained thus;

                The English word “Gentile” originated from a Latin word, gentilis, which meant nation
              –a person’s race of birth, not necessarily their place of birth (the reason that “nation”
             and “country” actually mean two very different things; “nation” is a union by family,
             while “country” is a union by politics).  The word genesis originated from the same root
             word as gentile, as did genealogy.  That reality is made obvious by the first Biblical reference
             to “gentiles,” in listing the families that descended from the sons and daughters-in-law of Noah,
             who then grew into nations, who later made countries for themselves –which included the
             family from which the Israelites, of which the tribe of Judah, known by the abbreviation “Jew,”
             originated many centuries later.
             Technically, by its actual definition, Jews are “gentiles” as much as are any other nation of
             people; the differentiation came when the LORD told them (when He told all of Israel, actually;
             see Where Jacob Became Israel) to separate themselves from the other nations – after which
             the custom developed in which Jews called all of the other nations “the nations” i.e. the
             “gentiles.”

The Scripture then narrates it thus:

5 From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations (Genesis 10:5 (NKJV).

  1. THE MINISTRY OF THE GENTILES                                                                      

During the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, He visited the city known as Jerusalem and asserted His messianic authority by cleansing the temple.  The Apostle Mark also records at the second time of the end of Jesus’ ministry, how He cleansed the temple.  This could be seen in the Book of Isaiah that is stated thus:           

Salvation for the Gentiles

1. Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed. 2. Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”  3. Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.”  4. For thus says the Lord:  “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5. Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them[a] an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.

6. “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant—7.  Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  8.  The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him” (Isaiah 56:1-8 (NKJV).

Although most of our Lord Jesus Christ’s three-year ministry was devoted to His own people, Israel.  Nevertheless, there are a number of significant incidents in His early ministry in which He focused upon the Gentiles.  For instance, the first example is His extraordinary trip through Samaria, the conversation of the woman at the well, and the conversation of many other Samaritans also.  This is narrated in the Scripture thus:
 

The Savior of the World

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”  40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.  41 And many more believed because of His own word.  42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ,[a] the Savior of the world.”

Welcome at Galilee

43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee.  44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.  45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast (John 4:39-45 (NKJV).

 

  1. THE MINISTRY OF MATTHEW’S GOSPEL ACCOUNT

The gospel of Matthew gives the most familiar form of the “Great Commission,” which is also a direct imperative command.  The Scripture says; 

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:16-20 (NKJV).

Brethren, be assured that in order for us to make disciples of all nations, we must first of all go to them.  That is, in connection with making disciples, we must teach them and baptize them in obedience to God’s word.  This means, making disciples involves more than “evangelism,” although that is very important and it should be the first step.  These could be viewed from the following Bible passages:

The Apostles Commissioned

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[a] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:19-23 (NKJV).

The Gospel of Luke also narrates it thus:

The Scriptures Opened

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”  45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[a] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  48 And you are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:44-48 (NKJV).

The Scripture again continues by saying;              

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me [a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus Ascends to Heaven

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:8-11(NKJV).

  1. THE ACCOUNT OF LUKE AND ACTS GOSPELS

In the Epistle of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, the story could be emphasized thus:

The Scriptures Opened

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”  45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[a] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  48 And you are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:44-48 (NKJV).

The Apostle Luke had been speaking about the prediction of the Old Testament prophecy which must necessarily be fulfilled.  This means, the proclamation of repentance for the forgiveness of sins are just as necessary as His death and resurrection, if we are to be saved.  That is, the Apostle Luke referrer to the proclamation of the gospel to all the nations in order for them to be saved.  Therefore, if this is not done adequately and honestly, it means our missions are impossible to win the lost and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ.  This is why the Book of Acts of the Apostle says,

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me [a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8 (NKJV).

CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, waiting, looking, depending, and trusting in our Almighty God will definitely give us the power and wisdom to focus on Him the more.  But when we refuse to wait on Him, when we refuse to depend on Him, and when we refuse to trust in Him, we are then not been faithful to His commitment. 

Beloved, how often do you depend on Him, wait on Him, and put your trust in Him?  Be assured that unless you do the following things adequately, honestly, and faithfully, you will not be able to achieve your goal.  Therefore, brethren, trust more in Him, wait more in Him, depend more in Him, and you will see the mighty grace and power of the Almighty Father  in your life every-day.   Thanks and may God bless and uphold you the more in Jesus’ name.  Amen! 



The Self Revelation of God

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904
www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

THEME: THE ESSENTIALS OF GLOBAL MISSIONS
TOPIC:  THE SELF REVELATION OF GOD
TEXT: REVELATION 19: 1-16

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

In reference to the man by the name C. S. Lewis, the word “The Self- Revelation of God” could be explained thus:  "The greatest poem in the Psalms and one of the greatest lyrics in the world."

The above narrated statement was written or composed by King David around 1000 BC.  This phrase or word consists of three distinct parts which could be explained thus;
1.  Through Nature:  Revelation 19: 1-6
2.  Through His word:  Revelation 19: 7-10
3.  The key to Benefiting from God’s word:  Revelation 19: 11-16  


A.  The Lord’s Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

          What does the word “Covenant” really mean in the Bible? This could be viewed in several ways.  For example, after Noah’s day the descendants of his sons degenerated into godlessness and idolatry.  The Bible records that at Babel the Lord judged human rebellion with confusion of languages.  This could be seen in the book of Genesis that says;   

The Tower of Babel

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.  2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.  3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.  4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  6 And         the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.  7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.  9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:1-9 (NKJV).

Brethren, be assured that Babel was the beginning of idolatry.  The tower was what archaeologists called ziggurat, which was upon the top of where idolatrous worshiped.  In reference to the Lady by the name Kay Arthur,  in her Book titled “Lord, Teach Me To Pray” the town Babel is actually the Hebrew name for the city known as "Babylon" or the “Tower of BABYLON, that is “The Babylonians.”  The ancient Babylonians and the Assyrians spoke the same language known as "Akkadian", that is, "The gate of the gods," where heaven and earth met.  The above narrated points are also fully explained in the Epistle of Romans thus;

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,  23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Romans 1:18-23 (NKJV).

B.   God’s Covenant with Israel Through Moses

                Be assured that it was the sin of Jacob’s sons that got the Israelites into bondage in Egypt, and they fell into the idolatry of the Egyptians.  The ten plagues were God’s judgments upon the very gods that the Egyptians worshiped, and their idolatry was closely tied in with animals and insects.  This was carefully emphasized in the book of Exodus:

The Seventh Plague: Hail

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, 14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.  15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth.  16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth (Exodus 9:13-16 (NKJV).

Our Almighty God brought the Israelites from the land in Egypt with a great miracle and led them into the land of Sinai and gave them His law. This is also explained in the book of Exodus thus:

Israel at Mount Sinai

19 In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai.  2 For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain.

3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:  4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.  5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for that all the earth is Mine.  6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him.  8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord (Exodus 19:1-8 (NKJV).

The above narrated stories indicated that after our Almighty Father reminded His people that He is the Lord of the Heaven and the Earth, He then told the Israelites that they should be a kingdom of priests.   This statement is fully loaded with great meaning, that is, a priest is a mediator between God and Man.  This means, Israel must be a whole nation of priests, intermediaries between the Lord who reveals Himself to them, and to the pagan nations around them.  That is, they must be a Missionary Nation.  But before they can do this faithfully and obediently, they must be loyal to His word and keep His law with humility and honesty.    

C.  The Place of Gentile Converts in Israel

The place of Gentile Converts in the Land of the Israelites could be emphasized or explained in this way:             

20 Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word;  21 but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord  22 because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice,  23 they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.  24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.  25 Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley; tomorrow turn and move out into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea (Numbers 14:20-25 (NKJV).

Also, the Book of Genesis could the narrated thus:

18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:  “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—  19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,  20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,  21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jobsites  (Genesis 15:18-21 (NKJV).

The Book of Leviticus could also be viewed or explained in this way.

The Sanctity of Blood

17 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  2 “Speak to Aaron, to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying:  3 “Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp,  4 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people,  5 to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the Lord.  6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet aroma to the Lord.  7 They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.”

8 “Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,  9 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off from among his people (Leviticus 17:1-9 (NKJV).

CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, I wish I have more opportunity to go into the Book of Ruth.  Ruth, a Moabite widow, was highly impressed with Naomi, her mother-in-law.  The lady Naomi requested that Ruth should return to the land of Judah where she came from but Ruth refused to retune to Judah.  Ruth said to the lady Naomi;

Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I     will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her” (Ruth 1:16-18 (NKJV). 

Brethren, how do you show your attitude toward each another?  Be assured that no-matter your sorrow, discouragement, or calamity, the Almighty God is on your side.  Call on Him each day and you will see that He will not leave you nor forsake you because He is there on your side.  Thanks!



Dispelling The Fog

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904

www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

THEME:  THE BIBLICAL DIMENSION
TOPIC:  DISPELLING THE FOG

TEXT: MATTHEW 10: 1-15

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

In the Scripture, what does the phrase “The Biblical Dimension” really stands for or mean?  In reference to the man John Paul, in his Book titled “The Essentials of Global Missions” it could be explained or narrated in different ways.  Such as:                
(A). The God in dialogue.  (B). The analogy of the word of God.  (C). The cosmic dimension of the word.  (D). The creation of man.  (E). The realism of the word.  (F). The Christology of the word.  (G). The eschatological dimension of the word of God.  (H). The word of God and the Holy Spirit.  (I). The Tradition and Scripture. (J). The Sacred Scripture, the inspiration, and the truth.  (K). God the Father, the source, and the origin of the word.  (L). Our Response To The God Who Speaks.  (M). Called to the covenant with God.  (N). God hears us and responds to our questions.  (0). Our dialogue with God through his words.  (P). The word of God and faith.  (Q). Sin as a refusal to hear the word of God.  And, (R).  Mary, “Mother of God’s Word” and “Mother of Faith.”

  1. THE APOSTLES, THE FIRST MISSIONARIES

Our Lord Jesus Christ set apart twelve of His disciples and called them Apostles.  He then send them only to their own people, the Israelites.   This people, the Israelites, were sent to announce that the Jews should repent since their Messiah, the King, as come and His kingdom is impending.  Also, the Lord set apart others, such as the Apostle Paul and Barnabas as Apostles to the Gentiles as well.  The Scripture narrates it thus:        

Ananias Baptizes Saul

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”  And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 
 

13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 

17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[a] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.  19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus (Acts 9:10-19 (NKJV).

Defending the Gospel

1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.  2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.  3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.  4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.  7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter  8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),  9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.  10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do (Galatians 2:1-10 (NKJV).

There is another story that narrates the parable of a sower.   It could be viewed in this way:

The Parable of the Sower

1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.  2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:

 

3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.  4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air[a] came and devoured it.  5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.  6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.  7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.  8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”  9 And He said to them,[b] “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The Purpose of Parables

10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.  11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them (Mark 4:1-12 (NKJV).

Brethren, in all the above narrated stories, how do you view yourself?  Be assured that if you and I should commit ourselves for the ministry that the Almighty God entrusts into our hands, we will change the whole world. 

  1. WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE NEED MISSIONARIES TODAY OR WHO ARE OUR MISSIONARIES?

Some Churches or Denominations spend a lot of time talking about missions or missionaries today.  In order words, it is about planning a mission trip or supporting missionaries around the world.  For example, Missionary Work narrated by our Lord Jesus Christ could be explained thus:

Christ’s Commission to the Eleven
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  18 they[a] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV).

The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen. (Matthew 28: 16 – 20 (NKJV).

The Apostles Commissioned
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[a] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20:19-23 (NKJV).

The above narrated or indicated stories mean that churchgoers understand what Missions are and what Missionaries are commanded to do.  Evangelism is a huge part of Missions and the purpose of Missions and Evangelism is to take or bring the gospel message to others around the world.  That is, Missionaries are called to reach out to the nations just as the Apostle Paul was faithfully and honestly committed to the Missions given to him.  That is, he reached out into the neighborhood with great commission.  
 

CONCLUSION

Brethren, be assured that the Evangelism of Missions means more than just standing on a soapbox preaching the gospel to anyone walking by.  But, Missionary Evangelism comes in numerous forms and is done in a variety of places.  Some of the two most notable missionaries of the Bible were Prophet Isaiah and the Apostle Paul.  Prophet Isaiah was more than willing to be sent out because he had a heart for missions.  The Apostle Paul was called to travel to the nations and make disciples of all nations, most importantly to the Gentiles.    
               Let’s say you are called to missions, what does that mean?  Bear in mind that there are numerous types of missions.  Some Christians are called to preach and plant churches.  They may travel around the world preaching, creating disciples, and building churches.  Other disciples may be sent to use their skills to teach children in underdeveloped countries.  Also, some Christian missionaries show God by doing things that aren't seen as overly religious.  That is, showing God's love in tangible ways.  This means providing medical care to those in need, teaching English as a second language, and providing emergency services after a natural disaster.  
               Bear in mind that there is no right or wrong way to be a missionary.  As seen in the Bible, missionaries and evangelists are used by God in God's own way.   Our Almighty God designs us to be unique and He called us to work with others in a faithful and better way.  If you feel called to missions, it's important that you examine your heart for how God wants to work with you.  For instance, you may be called to missions in Europe, Ethiopia, Liberia, Ghana, Africa, or in Nigeria.  Beloved, follow what God tells you because that's what He designs or commands you to do.  You may view this in the following Scripture, please.  The Epistle of Romans Chapter 15: 14-33.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ keep, bless, and uphold you.  Amen!



The Pedagogy of a Christian Life

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904

www.ecwa.wordpress.com,   www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

TOPIC:  The Pedagogy of a Christian Life

TEXT: John 5: 17-24

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

                What does the phrase “Pedagogy” really mean?  In reference to a man by the name William Alexander, the word Pedagogy could be viewed or explained thus:

What constitutes pedagogy is complex and not easily defined.  Even the definition of pedagogy appears to be somewhat obscure.  Watkins and Mortimer (1999) define it as “any conscious activity by one person designed to enhance the learning of another.   Alexander (2003) has his own preferred definition which suggests that pedagogy requires discourse.”

Pedagogy is the act of teaching together with its attendant discourse.  It is what one needs to know, and the skills one needs to command in order to make and justify the many different Kinds of decisions of which teaching is constituted.

In today’s sermon we will focus on the following topics:

  1. JESUS CHRIST, THE SELF STRONG CENTERED OR SELF-CONCEPT

For we Christians knowing whom we are is an essential part of learning who we are.  Also, knowing who we are in the Lord gives us the confidence that we need to teach others.   Be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man of mission who fully dedicated Himself for the task committed into His hand.   That is, Jesus Christ work is the result of His Father working through Him.  The Scripture says;  

The Father Revealed

7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.  11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 

The Answered Prayer

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  14 If you ask[a] anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:7-14 (NKJV).

The Scripture continues again by saying;

13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus Identifies His Betrayer

18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me[a] has lifted up his heel against Me.’[b]  19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.  20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:13-20 (NKJV).  

Brethren, be assured that our relationship with one another is the best way to acknowledge and appreciate each other.  But if we fail to acknowledge and appreciate each other, how can we live successfully?  Be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ worked faithfully, sufficiently, and honestly with His disciples and He obtained victory.  But the question is, how faithfully, honestly, and obediently do you associate yourself with the people in the community each day?  The Lord as called us for His mission and we need to be obedient to it and do it honestly, obediently, and faithfully. 

 

  1. JESUS IDENTIFIES WITH THE FATHER THROUGH PRAYER

In the Scriptures we can find several specific references from Jesus Christ’s prayers.  For instance, in the Book of Luke it is recorded thus:

The Twelve Apostles

12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor (Luke 6:12-16 (NKJV).

The Apostle Luke narrates how Jesus Christ prayed often in a lonely place and how His disciples tell the Lord to teach them how to pray.  It is recorded thus:

The Model Prayer

1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,[a]
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come[b]
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

3 Give us day by day our daily bread.  4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Luke 11: 1-4 (NKJV).

The Scripture again continues by saying;

Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking;

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.      8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11(NKJV).

Dearly Brethren, looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ, depending on Him, and relying on Him as your Lord and King will give you more ability and hope in Him.  I wish you understand that unless you honestly and truly depend on Him you may not gain victory in Christ Jesus.   That is the reason why a Hymn says, “Emi ni yi, ran mi (Isaiah 6: 8)

  1. Pelu ayo I’ a osise fun Jesu
    Pelu ife I’ a o f’ owo wa se
    Isekise ti O ba yan fun wa,
    L’ ododo I’ a o sise, ‘ranse wa 

Egbe:     Sise fun Jesu,
               L’ ayo I’ a o lo, I’ ayo I’ a o lo,
               Sise fun Jesu
               Ninu ogba Re I’aiye

    2.        Pelu adun Ii a o so itan naa,
               Ti ‘fe nla Re s’awon enia,
               Kristi itansan Ogo ti Baba,
               Lofe I’On y’o fi ‘bukun fun wa

 

  1. Pelu ‘reti I’o sise f’Oluwa,
    A o fi otito rin lona Re

A o t’asako sodo Olugbala,

A o f’ Od’agutan han elese.


CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, looking unto the Lord as our Savior and deliverer gives us the ability and opportunity of trusting, depending, and believing in Him the more.  But if we fail to put our trust in Him, focus on Him, and depend more on Him, it will be difficult for us to achieve any goal or success.  Therefore, Look on to Him the more then success and victory will be yours.